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NZ angst as fullback down

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Hearts in mouths for All Blacks fans as fullback Ben Smith goes down

Last night’s 31-all draw in Dunedin thrilled many New Zealand fans until All Black fullback Ben Smith went down with what looked like a serious knee injury with just five minutes to go in the match.

Smith fell awkwardly into a tackle after losing his footing on the surface, before being bent backward into a compromising position. His reaction gave no relief as he displayed his discomfort.

After the match head coach Aaron Mauger was aware of a cut to his chin in the collision with Jacobson but believed Smith suffered a hamstring strain.

“He’s got a hamstring strain, and also got a laceration on his chin, so he’s just getting stitched up at the moment,” a disappointed Mauger told RugbyPass.

“We’ll know a bit more in the next couple of days.”

The scare comes after dual first-five fullback Damian McKenzie ruptured his ACL a few weeks, ruling him out of the World Cup and leaving the All Blacks short on depth in two key positions. A serious injury to Smith would all but cause a crisis for the team at fullback, with Jordie Barrett, David Havili and even Will Jordan firming to be starting options.

Smith was influential in building the Highlanders 28-12 lead before a late Chiefs comeback saw the match drawn at 31-all.

Ben Smith interview ahead of Chiefs:

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Hearts in mouths for All Blacks fans as fullback Ben Smith goes down