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Former All Blacks squad member set for lengthy stint on sidelines

By Tom Vinicombe

Trending on RugbyPass

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One of the unlucky men to miss out on All Blacks selection in the squad for the coming tests in July won’t have any further opportunities to advance his case for a call-up this year.

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Crusaders lock Mitchell Dunshea has been ruled out for the remainder of the season and will instead undergo neck surgery in the coming weeks.

Dunshea earned selection in the All Blacks for the first time last year and was a late call-up to the squad for the Bledisloe Cup series after fellow Crusaders teammate Quinten Strange was ruled out through injury.

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Youngster Quinn Tupaea will earn his first caps for the All Blacks on Saturday.

While Dunshea didn’t have the opportunity to earn any caps for the New Zealand national squad, he travelled with the team to Australia for the Tri-Nations.

With Brodie Retallick returning from Japan and the likes of Scott Barrett and Patrick Tuipulotu recovering from injuries that sidelined them at stages in 2020, there was no room in this year’s squad for 25-year-old Dunshea, with the All Blacks selectors plumping for Retallick, Barrett, Tuipulotu, captain Samuel Whitelock and young Chiefs second-rower Tupou Vaa’i as their locks for their upcoming matches with Tonga and Fiji.

With Barrett, Whitelock, Strange and former All Blacks Luke Romano on the Crusaders’ books, the second row was highly contested every week but Dunshea proved himself the clear back-up to the first-choice pairing of Barrett and Whitelock. Dunshea played 12 games for the Super Rugby Aotearoa champions this year, making five starts and seven appearances off the bench.

Dunshea’s impending surgery means he’ll also miss the entirety of Canturbury’s upcoming NPC campaign – although coach Reuben Thorne will still have the likes of Romano and Blues big-mover Sam Darry.

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Thorne said that while Canterbury are disappointed not to have Dunshea available this year, surgery is the right thing for the big second rower: “Mitch is a quality player, he brings a lot of maturity and skill, he’s been in and around the All Blacks too and he would have brought all that experience to our campaign, but the right thing for him is to be fit and healthy again and we wish him all the best.”

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Former All Blacks squad member set for lengthy stint on sidelines

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