All Blacks deal with injuries and absences for European tour


WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A knee injury sidelined scrum-half Folau Fakatava from the All Blacks’ squad, who left New Zealand on Saturday for test matches in Japan and Great Britain.

Fakatava has an ACL injury, which means he will not play again this season.

The All Blacks left without several other players who are expected to join the team on tour at various times.

Brothers Barrett Beauden, Jordie and Scott remain in New Zealand after their grandmother’s death and will leave for Japan later this week.

Lock Sam Whitelock and winger Will Jordan have inner ear problems and are likely to join the team in Great Britain. Head coach Ian Foster said Jordan’s illness was more serious than Whitelock’s and it’s unclear when he might be ready to travel.

“We’re probably waiting for Sammy to come and maybe join us straight to London and Will is probably a little worse than Sam, so we’ll let you know as soon as we’re free,” Foster said. “But we didn’t see any value in bringing them in and having to deal with it.”

Brad Weber has been named to replace Fakatava, while Damian McKenzie and Patrick Tuipulotu will cover for Jordan and Whitelock.

Hooker Asafo Aumua has been called up as a cover for Dane Coles, who has a minor calf strain.

“We want to stay stuck on this tour up north,” Foster said. “It is important that we end up in a position with a very clear picture of what we are going to do because next year is quite short with five events before the World Cup.

“We are concerned about showing improvement and our trajectory is upward because where we want to be in 12 months is not two, three, four or five (in the world ranking) it is to be one. That’s pretty important to us.”

New Zealand play Japan in Tokyo on October 29, Wales in Cardiff on November 5, Scotland in Edinburgh on November 13 and England at Twickenham on November 19.


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