Luke Romano likely to miss two ABs tests
Luke Romano has been included in the All Blacks' wider training group but may struggle to be fit for their opening tests.
Crusaders lock Romano, who injured the AC joint in a shoulder during last Friday night's Super Rugby semifinal defeat to the Chiefs, could be unavailable for the Wallabies matches in Sydney and Auckland on August 18 and 25.
The extent of the problem, which forced Romano to retire during the first half, is likely to be clarified by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen today, but yesterday Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said the second-rower could not play through the pain barrier in the 20-17 loss at Waikato Stadium.
“I think it is quite serious, he could be out for three to four weeks," Blackadder said. “He popped an AC and they are painful, there was no way he could have played on and we really missed his physicality."
Sam Whitelock will be the only fit lock to attend the camp which will be held in Wellington on Wednesday and Thursday; Ali Williams is still recovering from knee surgery and will not be available for the opening rounds of the Rugby Championship, while Brodie Retallick will represent the Chiefs in Saturday night's final against the Sharks.
Hansen has resisted selecting any new locks, although he may yet hook in Chiefs skipper Craig Clarke for the official squad.
Speculation Jason Eaton or Jarrad Hoeata would get their papers hasn't eventuated, with Hurricanes' hooker Dane Coles the sole newcomer to the group.
There is grim news for Crusaders halfback Andy Ellis who appears to have slipped behind the Chiefs Tawera Kerr-Barlow in Hansen's ratings.
Ellis has not been invited, with Aaron Smith and Piri Weepu included. The in-form Kerr-Barlow may be groomed later in the year for the northern tour.
Crusaders midfielder Ryan Crotty, who has been touted as a chance to join the squad when Sonny Bill Williams departs for Japan, is another omission which suggests Hansen is content with using Tamati Ellison and Ben Smith as candidates to start alongside Ma'a Nonu if centre Conrad Smith is still recovering from eye surgery.
Blues prop Charlie Faumuina, who did not play last month's series against Ireland because of a calf injury, returns.
All Blacks wider training group
Blues: Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Ma'a Nonu, Piri Weepu, Ali Williams, Tony Woodcock. Hurricanes: Beauden Barrett, Dane Coles, Cory Jane, Julian Savea, Conrad Smith, Victor Vito. Crusaders: Dan Carter, Wyatt Crockett, Israel Dagg, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Zac Guildford, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Luke Romano, Samuel Whitelock. Highlanders: Tamati Ellison, Hosea Gear, Andrew Hore, Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Adam Thomson.
Who was the best-performed All Blacks forward on the northern tour?