Concussed All Blacks back in frame to play Argentina

Ryan Crotty (left) and Sam Cane. Photo: Getty Images
Ryan Crotty (left) and Sam Cane. Photo: Getty Images
The All Blacks' two recent concussion victims, Ryan Crotty and Sam Cane, are symptom free and likely to be considered for the test against Argentina in Nelson on Saturday.

Crotty's head injury early in the first Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney – he was knocked out after colliding with midfield partner Jack Goodhue - was a high-profile case given it was the latest of several in the past 18 months for him, but he is said to have recovered well and Cane, who left the Eden Park pitch last weekend after getting a tackle wrong in the second half, could also play a part at Trafalgar Park.

Both have trained well in the interim.

With All Blacks coach Steve Hansen likely to want to mix things up after two bonus point victories over Australia, Ardie Savea is a good chance to start in the No7 jersey ahead of Cane but the Chiefs player could be given a place on the reserves bench.

With Crotty it's a little more complicated given Sonny Bill Williams is still a week away due to his shoulder injury and inexperienced midfielder Goodhue likely to be in need of a break.

Hansen could elect to start Ngani Laumape and Crotty, but could yet decide to take a more cautious approach to the Crusader's return and start Anton Lienert-Brown at No13 instead. Goodhue impressed hugely in his first start in a test in Sydney and backed it up at Eden Park but looked a little fatigued in the end and the All Blacks will be monitoring his energy levels closely.

Lienert-Brown has been superb as a replacement in both tests and will be pushing hard for a start.

If Crotty is selected in the match-day squad of 23 there is likely to be an outcry in some quarters about the continued risk to his health but the All Blacks – and he himself – would counter that he is getting the best care possible on a daily basis.

In a media update once the All Blacks assembled in Nelson for their first ever test in the city, Hansen said Williams would undergo contact training next week to test his fitness before a possible return against South Africa in Wellington a week on Saturday. Williams hasn't played since the third test against France in Dunedin.

After a weekend in which the All Blacks dispersed around the country visiting communities that don't often see them – including Drury, Blenheim, Invercargill and four different areas in Nelson – they will be eager to carry on the form they showed against the Wallabies.

In beating the Springboks in Mendoza last weekend, the Pumas showed they have firepower, particularly in the wide channels.

"I like the continuity of their game," said Hansen.

"They didn't have the greatest of starts, losing to South Africa, but they turned that around. They've got pace, they've got size, they like playing up the middle but they now like to use their backs and their backs are big and fast.

"It's an exciting opportunity," Hansen said of the Nelson visit before the short hop across Cook Strait to the capital and the test against the Boks. "We've never played a test match here. It's the home of the oldest rugby club in New Zealand and it's got a rich history. It's nice to be supporting the community."
 

Add a Comment