Another first five injury for ABs...
August 25, 2013, 06:23:50
The All Blacks' first five-eighth curse has claimed a fourth victim, with rookie Tom Taylor sidelined for three weeks by a rib injury.
Taylor suffered the injury late in New Zealand's 27-16 win over Australia in Wellington on Saturday after making an assured debut.
He will miss New Zealand's next two Tests in the Rugby Championship, against Argentina in Hamilton on September 7 and against South Africa in Auckland a week later.
Taylor's memorable week threatens to be consigned as a footnote in All Blacks history, with a number of playmakers higher up the pecking order due to return from injury.
The 24-year-old was called into the squad six days before the Test.
It was a surprise when he was then unveiled as the fourth-choice No.10 following injuries to Test great Dan Carter (calf) and the two players used in last week's defeat of Australia in Sydney - Aaron Cruden (knee) and Beauden Barrett (calf).
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says Carter and Barrett are expected to be fit for the Argentina Test, although Colin Slade - who came off the reserve bench in Wellington - will go to Hamilton as cover.
It is a disappointing outcome for Taylor, who spoke of his satisfaction at a performance which produced 14 points with the boot and few errors in general play.
He was in obvious pain but unaware of the extent of his injury.
"It hasn't been a normal week but I tried my best," he said.
"I've been dreaming about rugby all week and trying to memorise all the moves. Once I was out there, it felt pretty good."
Elsewhere, Hansen said prop Owen Franks had injured his groin, meaning extra front row cover is likely to be needed in Hamilton.
Second five-eighth Ma'a Nonu was playing with a painful ankle and needs a scan, while Liam Messam was "touch and go" to return from a hamstring injury to face Argentina.
And a host of fringe All Blacks have been released to play in round three of the ITM Cup.
Wellington will be able to call on TJ Perenara and Jeremy Thrush for this Wednesday's match against North Harbour, who'll have the services of second-five Francis Saili.
Saili will also be available for Harbour's match against Northland on Saturday.
Colin Slade and Luke Whitelock have been released to play for Canterbury in Thursday's match against Waikato, while Counties-Manukau will again be able to call-on winger Frank Halai for their match against Tasman the following night.
Keven Mealamu and Charles Piutau will be available for Auckland's match against Bay of Plenty on Saturday, with the Steamers able to call-up Sam Cane.
And Hawke's Bay will be able to pick Ben Franks for Sunday's Ranfurly Shield challenge against Otago