Injury woes shrugged off ahead of Wales test

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 05:00 19/11/2012

Relevant offers

All Blacks

The good, the bad and the rugby dilemmas facing All Blacks coach Steve Hansen All Black eligibility changes would only create more problems, says Steve Tew Sir John Kirwan: All Black jersey still has the aura to keep players in New Zealand Richie McCaw has 'street fighting' skills required for another Rugby World Cup Former All Black Ali Williams says rugby needs to investigate southern exodus Reason: Hansen has big calls to make on elder statesmen for World Cup Andrew Mehrtens urges crocked All Black Aaron Cruden to 'stay positive' All Blacks No 10 Aaron Cruden won't rule out Rugby World Cup but admits chances are slim Robson: Carter and Barrett take pole position in race for All Blacks No 10 jersey All Blacks first-five Aaron Cruden to miss the Rugby World Cup with serious knee injury

All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu and halfback Aaron Smith are optimistic they will be fit to play Wales this week.

Mealamu and Smith picked up injuries against Italy in their first hit-outs on the end-of-year tour after sitting out last week's win over Scotland. The veteran rake was thought to be the more seriously injured after he limped from the field with a calf complaint, straight after halftime in Rome.

Dane Coles came on and impressed in his second test. Mealamu realises the threat the rookie will soon pose and wants to retain his spot in Cardiff.

"I think I came off at the right time before anything became of it.

"I thought it was wise to make sure I didn't do any damage to it," he said of the calf.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen attempted to downplay the injury but said he wouldn't know Mealamu's availability until later today.

Smith also hobbled into the after-match interviews with his left knee heavily strapped, not surprisingly given the number of times he was barrelled at the back of a ruck by the brutal Italian forwards.

"The left knee is a bit sore.

"It got a bit of a bang," he said.

"I'll keep it on ice. The doc said it should be right."

Mealamu also revealed the Italians caught the All Blacks off guard with their willingness to use the ball, rather than keep it in tight and kick for territory.

"We probably didn't expect them to play as much as they did," he said. "It was good for us to come up against that form of attack. Looking ahead to Wales, they will probably look to use the width. They've got some good ball handlers."

Ad Feedback

- The Dominion Post

Special offers
Opinion poll

Who was the best-performed All Blacks forward on the northern tour?

Dane Coles

Nathan Harris

Keven Mealamu

Wyatt Crockett

Charlie Faumuina

Ben Franks

Owen Franks

Joe Moody

Brodie Retallick

Luke Romano

Jeremy Thrush

Patrick Tuipulotu

Sam Whitelock

Sam Cane

Jerome Kaino

Richie McCaw

Liam Messam

Kieran Read

Vitor Vito

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content