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Woodcock to miss opening rounds
ESPNscrum Staff
January 24, 2012
All Blacks prop Tony Woodcock crashes over to score, New Zealand v France, Rugby World Cup Final, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, October 23, 2011
Tony Woodcock scored one of the most important tries in the All Blacks' history © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Tony Woodcock
Teams: Blues | New Zealand

Blues and All Blacks prop Tony Woodcock will sit out the opening rounds of the forthcoming Super Rugby campaign.

The 30-year-old scored the winning try in the 2011 World Cup final for the All Blacks but endured a season riddled with injury last term. Blues coach Pat Lam has conceded that the loose-head is still struggling with "quite a few niggles" and will therefore sit out their opening matches of the new campaign.

The Blues kick off their campaign against the Crusaders but soon take to the road as they travel to the Chiefs before visiting South Africa to play the Bulls and the Stormers. And with this in mind, Woodcock has been pencilled in for a Round 5 return.

"Tony's always good for that and it's about making sure that mentally and physically he's ready to go," Lam told One News. "After so many years of service in dark places in the front row I think he deserves that."

And Lam is confident that his side can fill the void left by the experienced prop despite losing fellow All Blacks front-row John Afoa in the close-season to Ulster.

"I think because we knew that early and Charlie Faumuina, Tom McCartney, Tevita Mailau have been with us a while and we've got young blood in Angus Ta'avao and Pauliasi Manu," Lam said. "As soon as they got a sniff of an opportunity I've seen the training and the work they've put in, they're all fighting for those places now.

"They know it's a dawn of a new era if you like those three guys (Woodcock, Afoa and Keven Mealamu) are our only centurions so it's a chance for these guys to step up. For me as a coach and us as a group it's embracing the challenge and the competition can only be won with the whole squad and this is a chance for them to start off."

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