The All Blacks midfield stocks have taken another hit, with George Moala ruled out of this weekend’s Bledisloe Cup.
Moala, who started in New Zealand’s third Test against Wales in June, strained a medial ligament in training and will miss a “few weeks”, assistant coach Ian Foster said.
The knee injury is the latest injury setback for the explosive centre, with an elbow injury from that Test putting him out for close to a month.
Foster said it was disappointing to see Moala back on the sidelines again, after his promising June form.
“He came in as a replacement in June, really took his opportunity well in that third Test and then he did an elbow in that Test so he’s actually been out for a while and he came back and he’s been in fantastic shape,” he said.
“The signs were looking good and he’s just had a bit of a temporary setback but that happens in this business so he’ll go away and get that right and hopefully come charging back sooner rather than later.”
Moala’s injury adds to a week of bad luck for the New Zealand midfield, after Sonny Bill Williams partially ruptured his achilles tendon playing for the All Blacks Sevens at the Olympics.
These injuries are on the backdrop of the departure of long-time starting duo Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith at the end of last season.
Despite the change ups in there, Foster said they didn’t see the centres as a potential target for the Wallabies this weekend.
”It’s certainly different, isn’t it,” he said.
“People are used to the Nonu-Smith and chuck Sonny Bill in there as well.
“I wouldn’t call it vulnerable but certainly saying we’re building combinations.
“There’s no hiding the fact that we’ve got players that are less experienced than the players that have been there in the past but if you look at the guys we’ve got there - Ryan’s (Crotty) had a number of Tests under his belt and Malakai’s (Fekitoa) the same - he’s had a number of Tests under his belt.
“Losing George means we’re short of that option but we’ve got guys who have played a bit of Test match rugby and played over here as well.
“We know it’s new but it’s something we saw in June, we made good progress in the midfield and now it’s going to be a next step up.”