Ben Smith (left) and Tamati Ellison before the
international rugby match between Scotland and New Zealand
at Murrayfield. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
A decision on whether to send Tamati Ellison and Ben
Smith home has been delayed to allow the All Blacks more time
to fully assess the pair's respective injuries.
Both men were scanned first thing Tuesday morning [Italian
time] and the prognosis is not clear. Ellison has damaged a
ligament in his foot while Smith has broken a small bone in
While neither is available to play this week in Rome, the
longer term picture isn't clear and there is hope that both
could still feature later in the tour.
Assistant coach Ian Foster, said: "We have had scans on both
of them and Tamati has a sore toe - he has some ligament
damage on the side of the toe which is a little unusual so we
are just going to give ourselves a few days now we know what
it is to see how quickly it settles down.
"Ben has got a small fracture in his cheek and again we are
not sure at this stage whether he is going to play again on
this tour. We are going to give ourselves two or three days
just to see how he settles down
"Tamati's injury is a bit unusual so it is unclear how that
is going to settle down and with Ben, the type of injury he
has, it is possible to play with but we just want to make
sure that we get people who give us the right medical
There is significant consternation in the All Black camp
about the situation as they could end up worryingly light on
midfield resource if they lose one or both. Smith impressed
at Murrayfield with his footwork and ability to make it over
the gainline in thick traffic and has progressed his claim to
be considered the heir apparent to Conrad Smith.
While neither Ben Smith nor Ellison were likely to start
against Wales or England - even had they been fully fit - one
of them would cover the midfield from the bench.
Daniel Carter will be able to cover second five against Italy
but the real danger for the All Blacks will be either Conrad
Smith or Ma'a Nonu picking up an injury in Rome.
Its with the danger of this scenario in mind that the All
Blacks are in no rush to make definitive decisions about
Smith and Ellison. Foster says no one has been put on
But if a replacement is required the short-listed options
would be Robbie Fruean and Ryan Crotty, although it is
possible that Tim Bateman, already in the UK with the Maori,
could be an option.
- Gregor Paul of the Herald on Sunday in Rome