Crockett confident of recovering for All Blacks
TONY SMITH AND RICHARD KNOWLER
Wyatt Crockett is confident he will be over a knee injury in time for the All Blacks' Rugby Championship campaign, averting a potential propping crisis.
When Crockett hobbled off at Sydney's Olympic Stadium on Saturday night, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen would have been understandably anxious about his loosehead prop stocks.
Veteran Tony Woodcock is set to have shoulder surgery.
Crockett's replacement, Joe Moody, took a head knock on Saturday and also had to leave the pitch; Wellington's Jeffery Toomaga-Allen - a first-time All Black last November - is unlikely to play again this year; and the Chiefs' Ben Afeaki has concussion issues.
If Crockett is crocked, it would leave Ben Franks (31 caps) as the only experienced All Blacks loosehead, with a big gap back to one-cap Chiefs front-rower Jamie Mackintosh and the uncapped Kane Hames (Highlanders) and Tim Perry (Crusaders).
But Crockett (27 caps) was upbeat about his fitness on his return to Christchurch yesterday afternoon, although he said the mood in the camp was "still sombre" after the Crusaders' 33-32 loss to the Waratahs in the Super Rugby final.
"I just fell on my knee after making a tackle. Hopefully, it's not too serious."
The Crusaders had a quick turnaround yesterday, which meant Crockett and Dan Carter (corked thigh) did not get their injuries assessed before the flight home. Crockett thought he would "definitely" be fit in time to go into camp with the All Blacks on Friday. A Crusaders spokeswoman said Carter, who was replaced after the first half-hour, was due to be assessed last night.
She said it was initially felt he was suffering from "a dead leg" when he was hit hard in a tackle.
Unlike loosehead prop, the All Blacks have plenty of cover for Carter for the first Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney on August 16.
Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett are in the squad, and Crusader Colin Slade is in the wings.
The Wallabies also have injury concerns around the hooking role, after first-choice selection Tatafu Polota-Nau suffered a knee injury in the second half. He was scheduled to have scans but could be in doubt for the Sydney clash.
- The Press
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