New Zealand Rugby
Injured All Blacks trio unlikely for Ireland
June 4, 2010
Victor Vito sprints through as the All Blacks get their fitness tested in Auckland © Getty Images
New Zealand's injury troubles continue to disrupt their preparation for the test season with the trio of Mils Muliaina, Richard Kahui and Tom Donnelly rated only outside chances to feature against Ireland in Plymouth next Saturday.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel though, with Kahui in particular making good progress towards regaining full fitness. Assistant coach Wayne Smith stopped short of ruling the trio out of the season opener, but said they were unlikely to be chosen.
"I wouldn't pick any of them personally," Smith said at the All Blacks' camp in Auckland on Friday.
Fullback Muliaina (calf), midfielder Kahui (chest) and lock Donnelly (ankle) were all included in the 26-man squad named last weekend, but uncertainty around them saw outside backs Ben Smith and Rene Ranger and lock Sam Whitelock summoned to the camp as cover. Smith said the three weren't far away from full fitness.
"Mils is coming along pretty well. The idea for him would be to get some club footy as soon as we can. With the calf we just have to treat it and progress it slowly. Tom Donnelly is similar, day by day he has a wee bit of pain. But he's progressing. Richard is running pretty well. There's no contact at the moment but he's looking pretty good."
It leaves Cory Jane (fullback), Benson Stanley (second five-eighth) and Anthony Boric (lock) as the likely starters in the absence of the injured trio. The All Blacks had fitness testing in Auckland on Friday and fly to New Plymouth on Sunday to begin their buildup.