New Zealand All Blacks Rugby News

Canada to feel full All Black force




All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith says that New Zealand will not be looking past this Saturday’s Hamilton Test against Canada to their date with the Springboks in Durban the following weekend.

Smith, speaking to the New Zealand Press Association (NZPA), said that the All Blacks management would not be resting a large amount of players in anticipation of the Springbok Test.

“You risk dropping your standards if you do that,” he said.

“We’re still working on specifics in our game.

“We’ll probably take one or two things and really try to hone those this weekend.”

It is likely that players like Mils Muliaina and Dan Carter will in fact return from injury to face Canada.

Muliaina has not played Test rugby this year yet, and played very little Super 14 rugby as a result of the reconditioning programme and injury. He is said to be recovering from a niggling hamstring injury.

Carter was injured against France in the first Test and pulled out late from the second Test.

“His (Carter) biggest issue was being able to punt the ball, (his foot) was sore on impact,” Smith said.

“Also, we wanted to see Nick get a start under pressure.”

Smith said captain Richie McCaw may get a rest, depending on how he felt physically.

Players who may get a run are scrumhalf Brendon Leonard and winger Doug Howlett.

With two locks out injured – Ali Williams and Keith Robinson – it remains to be seen whether Graham Henry will keep incumbents Troy Flavell and Chris Jack in the bank for the Springboks, thus starting two of Ross Filipo, Greg Rawlinson and blindsider Reuben Thorne in the second row.

Thorne has said he is confident he can compete at the top level at lock.

“I’ve played against (Victor) Matfield (South Africa) and all the Super 14 guys, the top guys, as a lock,” Thorne said.

“If I get that opportunity because of injuries or whatever then I’m more than happy to get in there.”

Thorne also sang the praises of his fellow Crusader Ross Filipo, who has just been called up to the squad.

“He’s a great guy to be around, he’s fun and enthusiastic,” Thorne said.

“I’m just rapt for him. If he gets the chance, I’m sure he’ll make the most of it.”

Thorne said Filipo wouldn’t be the aerial liability that some critics make him out to be.

“He ran the lineout for the Crusaders this year. With Jacko out early in the year, he stepped up and ran the show. He was our main lineout man.”


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