Cape Town - Highlanders flyhalf Josh Ioane has been added to the All
Blacks squad as cover for the injured Richie Mo’unga ahead of their Test
The All Blacks confirmed on Monday that Ioane had been
called up to prepare for Saturday’s clash against the Pacific Islanders
in Hamilton which will be their last Test before the Rugby World Cup.
Mo’unga was forced off the field with an injured shoulder in the
second Bledisloe Cup Test at Eden Park in Auckland on August 17 after
Australian back-rower Lukhan Salakaia-Loto landed heavily on him after a
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen revealed that he wouldn’t risk any
player who wasn’t 100 percent fit ahead of Saturday’s Test against
Ioane was part of the world champions’ squad during the Rugby
Championship and flew to Buenos Aires for the Test against Argentina,
but did not get any game time.
He wasn’t named in New Zealand’s 31-man World Cup squad but now has a chance of making his first Test appearance.
Hansen said the Test against Tonga is crucial with the need to keep players up to the mark before they leave for Japan.
“First and foremost we’ve got to get game time into a large
proportion of the squad - too long a gap otherwise between the last game
and the first game at the World Cup. So this will create a two-week
window which is acceptable,” he told Stuff.
Apart from Mo’unga’s injury, All Blacks centre Jack Goodhue was still having hamstring problems.
“We won’t risk anyone who’s 50-50, or even 80-20,” said Hansen.
“If we could play all 31 members in the weekend, that’s what we’d do.
But we’re only allowed to play 23. So we’re going to have to make some
hard decisions, because not all of them can play.”