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All Blacks proceed with caution as captain Sam Cane unlikely to face Namibia

All Blacks proceed with caution as captain Sam Cane unlikely to face Namibia
File photo: All Blacks perform the haka. (Photo: Brett Phibbs-Pool / Getty Images)

New Zealand, still reeling from a being felled by France in their opening World Cup game, are not panicking. They won’t rush their injured stars back, including skipper Sam Cane.

The All Blacks are taking a cautious approach to captain Sam Cane’s recovery from the back injury that forced him to miss the World Cup opener, forwards coach Jason Ryan said on Monday, making him unlikely to face Namibia on Friday.

The three-times world champions will be desperate for a convincing win over the Africans after losing 27-13 to hosts France last Friday. But Ryan said they would not be taking any chances with the health of openside flanker Cane.

“He didn’t train today, he got through a little bit of running work and we’ll reassess him tomorrow,” Ryan told journalists in Lyon.

“We’ve got to get him right, and now’s the chance to do that. We won’t be taking any risks with the skip because he’s important to us.”

Centre Jordie Barrett also looks like an unlikely starter for Friday’s match after only resuming full training on Monday as he completes his rehabilitation from a knee joint issue.

“It’s coming along pretty good. Obviously, it’s been a slow 10 or 14 days. But yes, it’s improving. So yeah, just day-by-day,” Barrett said.

“It’s not all doom and gloom. It’s a long tournament and our team’s in a good spot this week.”

Injured flanker Shannon Frizell and prop Tyrell Lomax will not be available for the second Pool A match in Toulouse, but Ethan Blackadder will arrive in Lyon later on Monday to bolster the loose forward stocks.



“Ethan? He’ll step in and bring plenty of energy,” lock Scott Barrett said. “He’s an engine that just keeps chugging like a diesel, I guess. Yeah, that’s what he brings. And the boys love what he does.”

Scott Barrett said discipline had been a major focus of the team’s review of the France match, in which the All Blacks were penalised 12 times to four penalties against the French.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Rugby World Cup 2023

He did not shy away from the fact that the All Blacks pack had been “outpowered” by South Africa in their final warm-up in London last month. And acknowledged they had improvements to make after losing a first pool match to date at the Stade de France.

“I don’t think we’re lacking any determination. There’s plenty of hunger and drive in the group,” he said.

“Twickenham, that hurt. I guess we weren’t up to the mark physically. But on Saturday night there are a few little games being played. Particularly around the scrums. But we’ve got to adapt and keep moving forward.” DM/Reuters


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