Highlanders forward Jarrad Hoeata is looming as a replacement
for Adam Thomson as the All Blacks flanker prepares to face a
judicial hearing for making contact with a Scotland
opponent's head with his boot in the big victory at
Thomson remained in the United Kingdom while his teammates
flew to Rome today after being cited for the incident
involving Alasdair Strokosch early in the second half of the
All Blacks' 51-22 win.
The 30-year-old will be accompanied by assistant coach Ian
Foster and European-based lawyer Owen Eastwood for the
hearing at Heathrow Airport on Thursday (NZT) and All Blacks
coach Steve Hansen admitted Hoeata, in England for the New
Zealand Maori tour, was a possible replacement.
Hansen was reluctant to pre-empt the outcome but said he had
the ability to replace Thomson in his 32-man squad.
"It will make sense to bring the next best player, so that's
what we'll do, but again we're jumping to conclusions - that
might be plan A or plan B," Hansen told media.
Hoeata, a Highlanders and Taranaki lock or loose forward,
played three tests for the All Blacks last year.
Ben Smith (eye socket) and midfield partner Tamati Ellison
(toe), casualties against Scotland, will undergo X-rays in
Rome. The All Blacks' chartered flight arrived in the Italian
capital this morning after a 90-minute delay.
Hansen added before travelling that the buttock injury which
forced fullback Israel Dagg from the field in the first half
wasn't serious. "He's made a good recovery this morning, but
we have three hours' travel in the plane so we'll see how he
comes through that and make a decision," Hansen said.
"He got a bit of a knock to the head, but his head's as clear
as a bell this morning, so doc's pretty happy with the way he
recovered. If he gets through the flight, hopefully he'll be
good to go."