Five minor wounds compelled the All Blacks into a mix and match of different selections for their game against Tonga in Hamilton for their pre-World Cup loadout.
While Steve Hansen and the rest of the coaching staff will not be too worried that a quintet of their 31 Japan-bound troops are unavailable for their upcoming game, it does still come as a disruption to their plans. Richie Mo’unga (knee), Jack Goodhue (hamstring) and to a lower degree Sonny Bill Williams (calf) were flagged as prospective omissions from the game at FMG Stadium Waikato previously this week, but Sam Cane (hamstring) and Rieko Ioane (calf) were also added to the roster when the squad was announced on Thursday.
Going off of Hansen’s rationale, it’s rather strange then that Dane Coles, the first-choice hooker, is not part of the team, with Codie Taylor having a start and Liam Coltman having an opportunity from the bench for rare, extra minutes. The lack of Cane implies a beginning for Matt Todd as Scott Barrett returns from suspension on the bench and Luke Jacobson is scheduled for his second sample appearance.
In the backline, he was robbed of a chance at redemption by Rieko Ioane’s tight calf, with Hansen confirming he was going to play the 22-year-old who was left a fortnight away for the Bledisloe Cup retainer, where George Bridge appeared in his position in the Wallabies ‘ 36-0 game played in Auckland.
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