All Blacks trio to miss second Test
August 21, 2013
Beauden Barrett has succumbed to a minor calf strain © Getty Images
Cruden damaged a ligament in his right knee during the All Blacks' 47-29 win in the opening Bledisloe encounter in Sydney on Saturday, where he was a standout performer. He could be out for anything from two to six weeks with diagnosis to continue.
Barrett, who replaced Cruden in the 70th minute, has a minor calf strain and should be available for New Zealand's third Test of the Rugby Championship, against Argentina in Hamilton on September 7.
Romano was worst off after tearing a groin tendon in the Sydney Test. He will miss the rest of the Rugby Championship and is not expected to be available until New Zealand's tour of Japan and Europe in November.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had already prepared for the bad news, calling up former All Blacks playmaker Colin Slade and Crusaders utility Tom Taylor as cover for Cruden and Barrett. They are fourth and fifth-choice options in the position, with Test great Dan Carter having been sidelined last week by a calf strain.
"It's an exciting time for the replacement players and it's also a challenge now for the rest of the team to make their entry into the side as seamless as possible," Hansen said.
Hansen had also called in uncapped loose forwards Luke Whitelock and Brad Shields this week. That was primarily as cover for Liam Messam, who is still sidelined by a hamstring strain, but also for blindside flanker/lock Steven Luatua, who will help fill the void left by Romano.
The coach added that the loss of physical forward Romano for the remainder of the four-nation championship would be heavily felt. "It's obviously hugely disappointing for Luke but he is a strong character and is already planning his rehab with our medical staff."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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