New Zealand
All Blacks put out injury bushfires
ESPN Staff
September 1, 2015

The All Blacks are calling for calm from the public and media after a series of minor niggles at their first pre-World Cup training session were amplified. First five-eighth Colin Slade sat out the second half of a session marred by heavy rain on Tuesday after slipping awkwardly.

The incident quickly accelerated onto social and mainstream media, with recollections of the medical crisis which enveloped the All Blacks during the 2011 World Cup getting a good airing. Slade was one of three leading playmakers who suffered tournament-ending injuries for the hosts but All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster was quick to alleviate any concern this time.

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"Colin landed awkwardly on his knee and gave it a bit of a tweak," he said. "That's it. He was walking around the sheds afterwards so he's fine."

Questions about the absence from training of second five-eighth Sonny Bill Williams (cold) and some lighter training for flanker Liam Messam (predetermined rest) left Foster frustrated. He said the issues were small and the All Blacks won't be changing their approach less than three weeks out from their opening pool game against Argentina.

"Everyone seems to be panicking every time someone doesn't train," Foster said. "We're preparing for a Rugby World Cup, we're a contact sport and we have to make sure we're battle-hardened and ready to go."

Foster gave a positive report on winger Waisake Naholo, who was the surprise selection in the 31-man squad announced on Sunday. Naholo jogged lightly on the sideline six weeks after having fractured his leg and Foster says the 24-year-old remains on track to play in New Zealand's third pool game against Georgia.

He said the squad enjoyed a visit to the Ngati Toa marae in Porirua on Monday night, where the players were "reconnected" with the meaning of the All Blacks' Ka Mate haka which originated there.

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