The Rugby Championship
Tony Woodcock may miss entire campaign
ESPN Staff
July 31, 2014
Sam Cane and Steven Luatua looked sharp in Albany © Getty Images

Steve Hansen remains relentlessly upbeat about The Rugby Championship even though All Blacks stalwart Tony Woodcock might miss the remainder of the season with continuing shoulder concerns.

Woodcock took only a low-key part in proceedings at the All Blacks training camp in Auckland on Thursday, and Hansen said the veteran could miss at least five months if he needs surgery.

The coach has been encouraged by the depth shown in the position, with Joe Moody and Wyatt Crockett being pushed hard by Tim Perry, and with Kane Hames, Pauliasi Manu and Motu Matu'u impressing as long-term prospects.

The Blues' Tony Woodcock grimaces in pain, Crusaders v Blues, Super Rugby, AMI Stadium, Christchurch, July 5, 2014
The Blues' Tony Woodcock grimaces in pain © Getty Images

"The young fellas have shown they're not too far away." Hansen said. "I'm quietly confident we've got enough to fill any gaps if Woody has to go and get surgery. His shoulder's pretty loose. We'll just see what happens over the next seven days, then make a decision from there."

Hansen said Woodcock would benefit hugely from the time off if he undergoes surgery, as seems increasingly likely.

"There's no point in mucking around. If it's not going to be right then we may as well get it operated on, and he'll get his first free season of some note for 12 years. He'll get six or seven months before he has to play again. And when you've been on the circuit as long as he has, that's valuable time. It'll refresh him up and we'll get a revitalised Tony Woodcock."

Hansen said the training camp wasn't specifically focused on the coming Bledisloe Cup Tests against Australia, with the emphasis more centred around improving skills. But the form shown by New South Wales Waratahs and Brumbies in Super Rugby has given him cause for thought.

"I think they've always been a legitimate threat," he said. "Aussie rugby's in good nick, and they've got one or two people who are game-breakers. Israel Folau is pretty special, and when you've got those types of people in your team, they can really turn the game around."

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