Cruel blow for Coles

by AAP

All Blacks hooker Dane Coles could be out of action for six months after suffering ligament damage in the 38-18 win over France on Saturday.

The world champions said Sunday that the 30-year-old will return home immediately from the team's autumn tour to undergo surgery.

"Dane Coles is to return home after rupturing his ACL in last night's Test win over France," said the All Blacks on Twitter.

"Head Coach Steve Hansen says he will require an operation with likely 4-6 month recovery."

Coles, making his 56th All Blacks appearance, scored the first try in Saturday's win after just nine minutes at the Stade de France before going off a quarter of an hour later with what appeared to be a foot injury to be replaced by Codie Taylor.

It is the latest injury setback for Coles after being sidelined for several months earlier this year with concussion symptoms.

Meanwhile, loose forward Luke Whitelock while captain a youthful All Blacks midweek team to face a French XV in Lyon.

One-Test Highlanders No.8 Whitelock joined the tour this week as cover for the injured Jerome Kaino and will return home after the match at Parc Olympique Lyonnais on Tuesday.

He becomes the 133rd player to captain New Zealand.

The hugely inexperienced matchday 23 features nine players who are uncapped at Test level.

Five of them are yet to play for the All Blacks - starting centre Jack Goodhue and reserves Richie Mo'unga, Mitchell Drummond, Dillon Hunt and Akira Ioane.

There are six players who were part of the Barbarians who pushed the All Blacks close in the opening tour match at Twickenham.

Luke Whitelock will captain the All Blacks against a France XV. Photo: Getty ImagesIoane was added from the touring Maori All Blacks squad.

There are just 123 combined caps in the starting XV, with the most experienced player being 27-capped halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow.

Liam Squire returns from virus which ruled him out of the Test win over France in Paris on Saturday.

If he impresses, he is one of the few players likely to push for a starting spot to face Scotland in Edinburgh this weekend.

Reserve forwards Scott Barrett and Ofa Tu'ungafasi are the only players who were involved in Paris, both coming off the bench.

Coach Steve Hansen says he will be an interested observer as he opens the door for future prospects to shine.

"This is another exciting opportunity for a young, group of men to go out and experience what it's like to wear the All Blacks jersey and deal with all the pressures that come with that," Hansen said.

"Whilst Luke Whitelock is only playing his second game for the All Blacks, he was an obvious choice as captain given his experience and leadership as captain of both the Highlanders and Canterbury."

Mo'unga is one of just two backs on the bench and will effectively cover every position outside halfback.

The home side is expected to provide a staunch test.

It comprises the other half of French coach Guy Noves' 46-man national training group.


New Zealand to face France XV

1. Tim Perry

2. Nathan Harris (9)

3. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen (1)

4. Patrick Tuipulotu (15)

5. Dominic Bird (2)

6. Liam Squire (13)

7. Ardie Savea (22)

8. Luke Whitelock (1) - captain

9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (27)

10. Lima Sopoaga (13)

11. Seta Tamanivalu (3)

12. Ngani Laumape (4)

13. Jack Goodhue

14. Matt Duffie 

15. David Havili (3)


16. Asafo Aumua

17. Atu Moli

18. Ofa Tu'ungafasi (12)

19. Scott Barrett (15)

20. Akira Ioane

21. Dillon Hunt

22. Mitch Drummond

23. Richie Mo'unga