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‘There’s no guarantees’: All Blacks coach provides injury update on Sam Whitelock

By Finn Morton
Sam Whitelock of the All Blacks looks on during a New Zealand All Blacks training session at Mt Smart Stadium on June 30, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Assistant coach Jason Ryan has provided an injury update on lock Sam Whitelock ahead of the All Blacks’ opening Bledisloe Cup clash with the Wallabies in Melbourne.

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After signing with French club Pau, Whitelock almost had his final season with the Crusaders cut painfully short by a persistent Achilles injury.

But to the surprise of many, including All Blacks coach Ian Foster, Whitelock started for the champion franchise in last month’s Super Rugby Pacific final against the Chiefs.

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Playing his 178th and final match for the Crusaders, Whitelock was named the Player of the Final after helping the team win their seventh title in as many years.

But Whitelock wasn’t out of the woods just yet. After joining the All Blacks in Auckland, Whitelock missed some training sessions – and ultimately the opening Test of the year against Los Pumas.

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Coach Foster confirmed that the veteran was available for last weekend’s Test against the Springboks, but the All Blacks decided to give Whitelock more time to recover.

With a fortnight between that match and the All Blacks’ date with the Wallabies in Melbourne, Whitelock appears to be tracking towards a return to the international arena.

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“Sammy’s coming along nicely now,” coach Jason Ryan said on Sky Sport’s The Breakdown. “It’s done him the world of good to get the best work into his Achilles possible.

“He’s selectable, we know that. What we’ve shown is that we’ve got depth in locks and there is genuine competition in this team right now and that’s exciting.

“We had a catchup this morning as selectors and there’s some headaches and that’s how it should be with the All Blacks.

“We’re pretty happy with how things are progressing there and guys are competing every day at training, and if they’re doing that they might get an opportunity in the black jersey but there’s no guarantees.”

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Fletcher Newell, Joe Moody and David Havili have also been sidelined with injuries this season, and are yet to don the black jersey in 2023.

But as coach Ryan confirmed, all three players are “definitely in our discussions” ahead of this year’s Rugby World Cup in France.

“They’ve been in with us all last week as well, same with Davy Havili, he’s been in as well,” he added.

“It’s been great for them to see what we’re doing, sitting in the meetings.

“They’re definitely in our discussions, 100 per cent they are.”

The All Blacks take on fierce rivals Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground later this month. Then, the New Zealanders will return to Aotearoa for the reverse fixture in Dunedin.

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2 Comments
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Northandsouth 360 days ago

Get Sam back in there for the MCG and give Scooter a break. SB is on fire but has pumped out 80min after 80min for months with barely a break. There's a lot of big tests to come so put him on ice for the rematch a week later in the Glasshouse.

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