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All Blacks lose Sam Cane and Dane Coles for rest of the year

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

The All Blacks have lost two more players to injury including captain Sam Cane and veteran hooker Dane Coles, who was a late scratching against Japan after a pre-match injury in warm-up.

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Head coach Ian Foster confirmed the worst for captain Cane on a call with New Zealand media, who suffered a fractured cheekbone and will return home for further assessment.

Hooker Dane Coles, who was supposed to start against the Brave Blossoms, succumbed to a calf injury in the warm-up and will also return home.

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The loss of the two experienced veterans opens the door for another test cap for Wellington hooker Asafo Aumua, who will join the top squad from the All Blacks XV, while uncapped Canterbury flanker Billy Harmon has been drafted into the All Blacks to cover the loss of Cane.

Aumua played five tests in 2021 but hasn’t been required by the All Blacks so far this year, while Harmon has plied his trade at the Crusaders for three seasons before joining the Highlanders in 2021.

The timing of the injuries leaves the All Blacks potentially vulnerable ahead of a three match stretch against Wales, Scotland and England after what has already been a challenging year for the All Blacks.

Foster’s experimental side escaped with a 38-31 win over Japan after struggling to put the home side away despite racing to a 21-3 lead in the first half.

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The coaching staff will be sweating on the outcome of a judicial hearing for lock Brodie Retallick who was red carded for a dangerous cleanout on Japan flanker Kazuki Himeno.

Retallick could also miss the remaining tour matches if the judicial hearing hands down a suspension to the All Black lock.

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