Rugby World Cup 2015: Beauden Barrett, Colin Slade sit out All Blacks training
Beauden Barrett and Colin Slade both sat out training in Cardiff as the All Blacks began their preparations for their third World Cup pool match against Georgia.
The two first five-eighth's stood on the sidelines with loose forward Liam Messam as the rest of the squad trained in brilliant sunshine at Sophia Gardens on Sunday.
- Age: 24
- Born: New Plymouth
- Position: First five-eighths
- Super team: Hurricanes
- Test debut: v Ireland, 2012
Barrett suffered whiplash to his neck in a big tackle by Namibian second five-eighth Johan Deysel in the 28th minute at Olympic Stadium and will be monitored in the coming days.
Slade reported a tight hamstring to medical staff at halftime during the 58-14 win over Namibia and was taken off the field 12 minutes into the second half, while Messam missed the match due to a bruised calf.
It remains unclear whether the trio will be available to play Georgia, but Slade was confident he'd be fit when he fronted media with backs coach Ian Foster before the side left London.
The absence of Barrett and Slade would make for an interesting discussion around who would back up likely starter Dan Carter at first five-eighth, but neither injury appears to be serious.
The more pressing issue remains which two of the All Blacks wings is in pole position for the starting spot as the quarterfinals approach.
Waisake Naholo looks ready to go and is expected to get a start on the right wing, but there is plenty of speculation over whether the selectors will keep Julian Savea rolling on the left wing, or reward Milner-Skudder for his strong performance against Namibia.
The former seems more likely with Savea starting to show the strength and intent that made him the world's most damaging back last year after opening his test try scoring account for the season with a brace in the last match.
"I don't go out saying I'm going to score two tries," he said with the wry smile of a bloke who feels like he's being measured mostly on tries scored. "If I get in that situation I'm prepared to finish it off. That's how I see it anyway.
"There is always room to improve. Personally I'm just trying to do my role for the team. The way I get better is doing it well. Prepare each week like it's my last test, then taking the learning from each game and moving on."
Savea said he was doing what he could to get involved including moving off his wing to carry up the middle of the park.
"For me it's just getting involved as much as I can, getting a lot of carries and trying to work on my clean outs, getting into a good position to get physical."
He said he welcomed the competition Naholo would add to the wing spots and was excited to see what the Highlanders flyer would add to the team.
"That's what we want. Hopefully Waise is going to be 100 per cent. With that pressure coming in we have to step up our game. We want to compete against the best. It gets me excited anyway.
"What's good about him is he's coming to ask questions, working hard on what his role looks like. Even though he hasn't been training much he's doing good stuff off the field, getting his mind familiar with the game plan and what we are trying to do as outsides… hopefully he's sprinting and we'll see some of that Super Rugby form this week or the week after.
"Of course we are [excited]. He's a try scoring machine. He's quick and explosive. I'm happy to be on his side rather than against him."