Afoa set to miss Wallabies clash
July 31, 2011
Afoa was a second-half casualty for the All Blacks in their match against South Africa © Getty Images
A fractured cheekbone looks set to rule All Blacks prop John Afoa out of Saturday's Tri-Nations clash with Australia.
The tight-head lasted a little over six minutes on the field after replacing Ben Franks in the front row early in the second half in New Zealand's 40-7 win over South Africa. And, despite coach Graham Henry originally being optimistic about his chances of facing the Wallabies in Auckland on Saturday, the All Blacks coach has since changed his prognosis saying: "The reports are not as good as I thought they were going to be. He doesn't look as positive as we thought it was last night."
A surgeon has yet to look at scans of the injury so there was still some doubt over the extent of the fracture for the 32-Test prop - who will join Ulster after the World Cup.
Henry said with Tony Woodcock only returning to ITM Cup action with North Harbour on Tuesday it was likely they would bring another prop into the squad to assist with training. The coaches had yet to discuss who that may be but Wellington prop Neemia Tialata and North Harbour's Ben Afeaki loom as contenders after both were involved in All Blacks training camps this year.
However, Henry said with Owen Franks rejoining the squad after missing both the Fiji and Springboks Tests and his brother Ben and fellow Crusader Wyatt Crockett in the squad, whoever was brought in was unlikely to feature in Test calculations. "It wouldn't be a player we would bring in to play in the Test I wouldn't have thought - someone who can help us with training."
Henry said everyone else came through Saturday's Test largely unscathed, although midfield back Ma'a Nonu complained of tightness in his hamstring and replacement Sonny Bill Williams had a sore leg. They are both expected to be available to play the Wallabies in Auckland.
Aside from Owen Franks, lock Brad Thorn, No.8 Kieran Read and hooker Keven Mealamu will be available and will feature in the Tri-Nations and Bledisloe Cup match. Henry said wing Hosea Gear was likely to play in the Test after being sidelined with a hamstring problem while utility back Israel Dagg was scheduled to play club rugby in Hawke's Bay next weekend after a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to a thigh injury.
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