Messam blow for All Blacks
Blindside flank Liam Messam on Thursday withdrew from the All Black team to face Australia this weekend due to a hamstring strain.
Blindside flank Liam Messam on Thursday withdrew from the All Black team to face Australia this weekend due to a hamstring strain, forcing coach Steve Hansen to draft in inexperienced Steven Luatua.
Messam pulled up sore at training, preventing him from featuring in the Rugby Championship opener against the Wallabies in Sydney on Saturday.
"UPDATE: Liam Messam has been ruled out of Bledisloe Test after hamstring strain at training. Replaced in starting XV by Steven Luatua," the All Blacks' official Twitter feed said.
Messam is likely to be out for two or three weeks.
"Gutted to miss out on putting the black jersey on this weekend," he said on Twitter.
"Time to ICE up and REST up, next week is a new week."
Luatua, 22, was not in Hansen's 23-man squad to travel to Sydney and has only one Test cap, in the final match of the three-game series against France in June .
He is likely to face a torrid time against a Wallabies outfit fired-up by the appointment of new coach Ewen McKenzie and determined to end a decade of All Black dominance in trans-Tasman rugby.
* Meanwhile coach Steve Hansen said he never doubted Richie McCaw's readiness and says the veteran has added value already this week with a critique of the recent three-Test series whitewash of France.
"He's been sitting back watching through the June series and he's got his thoughts on that and how we can improve our game.
"He's pretty keen. The pleasing thing is the flow-on from Reado, because he's continuing to lead really well as well."
New Zealand - revised: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Ryan Crotty.
Date: Saturday, August 17
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 20.05 AEST (22.05 NZ time; 10.05 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)