Time on sidelines mounting for Squire

Liam Squire on the run for the Highlanders against the Stormers this year. Photo: Getty Images
Liam Squire on the run for the Highlanders against the Stormers this year. Photo: Getty Images
Highlanders and All Black loose forward Liam Squire has missed more than half of the games he could have played in the past three seasons.

Squire, who will leave the All Blacks tour of the northern hemisphere this week because of a minor knee injury, has started in 40 games over the past three seasons. That is out of a possible 95 games he could have played for the Highlanders and the All Blacks.

The rugged loose forward is highly rated by All Black coach Steve Hansen and when available has been first pick for the blindside flank role now that Jerome Kaino has departed.

The issue for Squire, though, is being available for selection.

Squire has been dogged by injury over the past three years, spending time on the sideline for knee, hand and shoulder injuries for both the Highlanders and the All Blacks.

Last year, he had a knee injury at the start of the season and then broke his thumb in South Africa while playing for the Highlanders. That forced him to miss the British and Irish Lions series.

This year he has been hampered by a broken thumb which he damaged early on in the season. It did not reset properly and he was forced to miss more time than expected.

He also missed games at the back end of the Rugby Championship due to a hand injury. He played against Japan and England but went off in the first half in the loss to Ireland on Sunday after suffering the knee injury.

He was replaced by Scott Barrett, who again made some impressive plays around the park.

There is a suggestion Barrett will push ahead of Squire in the blindside flanker role for the All Blacks next season. But Barrett lacks the athletic ability of Squire and is better suited to a locking position.

Squire is a dynamo when he has the ball and uses his big frame to advantage. The issue appears to be playing the game at a level that his body cannot always back up.


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