All Blacks Team Announced for French Test
It is a blow for Jerome Kaino, but he will be heading home this weekend after suffering a ligament injury in last weeks’ match against the Barbarians. According to coach Steve Hansen, Kaino’s injury comes with a six-week recovery time, ruling him out this week’s test against France in Paris. This leaves Vaea Fifta, Akira Loane and Liam Squire contesting for the blindside flanker role for the rest of the All Blacks Norther Tour.
Luke Whitelock, will come in to replace Kaino, but only for the mid-week match against the French XV. After the match, Whitelock will also be on his way home while Akira Loane will be joining the squad after completing his duties with New Zealand Maori at the end of the week. Loane spent a bit of time with the All Blacks during the Championships and will be a good addition. The Blindside position has been a point on contention this week as Squire was also ruled out due to a virus he picked up which saw him miss Tuesday’s training session.
Fifita Makes His Fourth Start
Squire has since recovered from his illness but not in time for the French Test. The duties will now fall to Fifita who will be making his fourth start for the New Zealand national side. Speaking to the press, coach Steve Hansen said that Fifita is still in the learning phase and this will be a big match for him. Hansen also said that there will be changes in positions over the next couple of weeks. Desciibed as not a finished product, Fifta will have his opportunity to shine.
Meanwhile Rieko Loane has recovered from his mumps scare and will take his place on the left wing. Luke Romano also impressed against the Barbarians to retain his position in the starting second row alongside the ever-dependable Sam Whitelock. According to Hansen, Scott Barret needs a bit of time to work on his defence. In the battle for the openside, Matt Todd has been picked give back up to Sam Cane rather than Ardie Savea. Newly reinstated after recovering from a groin injury, Todd will come in, as Hansen would rather play Savea in Lyon.
In all other respects, the All Blacks have restored their strongest team, having gone down to the Wallabies in Brisbane. Preparations for the French test have been a bit of a challenge though as New Zealand is unsure of who the local will select. The French have a talented squad and anything can happen.
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