Three more ruled out for AB's

by Staff Writer

Captain Richie McCaw and fullback Mils Muliaina have been ruled out of the All Blacks' Pool A match against Japan in Hamilton on Friday.

Fullback Israel Dagg has also been injured following a training session at St Peter’s College in Cambridge late on Wednesday afternoon.

The players were ruled out after being further assessed by All Blacks medical staff on Thursday morning.

The All Blacks will now be captained by hooker Keven Mealamu against the Brave Blossoms.

New Zealand doctor Deb Robinson said McCaw, who was due to play his 100th Test against Japan, had suffered a minor calf strain in his left leg, Muliaina had a tight right hamstring and Dagg had a right abdominal strain.

“It was a bad day at the office as far as injuries are concerned but the good news is that all the injuries are not serious," she said.

“There would be risk of further injury to these players if we let them play so we have withdrawn them. We will now concentrate on their rehabilitation with the aim of getting them ready to resume training next week to prepare for the France Test.”

The injuries have forced a reshuffle of the starting 15 and the reserves bench for the match against the Brave Blossoms. Isaia Toeava will now start at fullback, Adam Thomson will shift to openside flanker and Victor Vito comes off the bench to start at number eight.

Lock Anthony Boric comes on to the bench to replace Vito.

All Blacks coach Graham Henry said: “It’s disappointing to have the players unavailable, especially Richie and Mils who were both looking forward to playing against Japan. But injuries are something that we all have to deal with and it’s great that we have versatility in the squad so Isaia is able to slot in at full back.”

The revised All Blacks team to play Japan is now as follows:

1. Tony Woodcock

2. Keven Mealamu – captain

3. Owen Franks

4. Brad Thorn

5. Sam Whitelock

6. Jerome Kaino

7. Adam Thomson

8. Victor Vito

9. Andy Ellis

10. Colin Slade

11. Richard Kahui

12. Ma’a Nonu

13. Conrad Smith

14. Cory Jane

15. Isaia Toeava

Replacements:

16. Andrew Hore

17. John Afoa

18. Ali Williams

19. Anthony Boric

20. Jimmy Cowan

21. Piri Weepu

22. Sonny Bill Williams

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