All Blacks in no rush to clear injury list despite needing winning run

New Zealand is in no rush to clear its list of injured players even though it must win its remaining pool games to reach the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

Forwards coach Jason Ryan’s update had none of the injured players in contention to play against Namibia on Friday in Toulouse.

Neither will backrower Ethan Blackadder, who has arrived in France as an emergency call-up. He will be given time to settle in.

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Injured captain Sam Cane (back), fellow backrower Shannon Frizell (hamstring), prop Tyrel Lomax (gashed knee) and inside centre Jordie Barrett (inflamed knee) were all first picks.

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The All Blacks were taking the long view to get them healthy. After Namibia, they have a weekend off then a crucial match with Italy on September 29.

Cane ran but didn’t train on Monday. He’s treating the back he tweaked which forced him to withdraw from the tournament opener against France. France won 27-13 convincingly.

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

Cane’s injury was the main reason the All Blacks chose to replace injured winger Emoni Narawa, who has gone home, with Blackadder, who has nine caps in an injury-plagued career.

The coaches hoped Frizell can start training fully next week. Barrett and Lomax are running, and Lomax got into some scrums.

“Those boys have been working hard,” Ryan said. “We are going to need them all.”

Ryan also addressed the scrum, where the All Blacks conceded penalties that cost them points and momentum. Second-year loose head prop Ethan de Groot took a lot of heat for the second straight test defeat, following the mauling by South Africa at Twickenham last month.

“He’s probably one of the most determined, young rugby players I’ve ever coached,” Ryan said. ”He’s immensely tough and he cares deeply, and it would be unfair to point the finger at him solely.

“You talk about northern hemisphere scrummaging and how they do it and it is different, but when you scrum against them, you get to learn from them. And we are in a position where we have learned a couple of things where we can be better.

“But just building his confidence (is important, too) and making sure he’s not taking too much to heart because he is a young fella who has come onto the scene pretty quickly, down a different path than most, and we believe in him 100 per cent.”


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