All Black Kaino in doubt for Lions tour

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 06:05
Large jerome kaino blues v hurricanes  800

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: All Black enforcer Jerome Kaino is in doubt for the British and Irish Lions tour after his Blues team revealed Thursday he is undergoing surgery on an injured knee.

The Blues said the 77-Test flank would be sidelined for about six weeks after going under the knife to fix a torn meniscus.

That puts Kaino in line for a return in early-to-mid-June.

The Lions are due to pay the Blues on June 7 and their first Test against the All Blacks is June 24.

The two-time World Cup winner's absence would be a massive blow for New Zealand, although Blues assistant coach Steve Jackson insisted it was minor surgery that should not affect Kaino's All Black duties.

"I'm pretty sure he'll be fine for the Lions tour," Jackson told reporters.

"He'll get his feet up and [players] normally come back pretty quick from those sorts of operations."

At the very least, the setback will leave Kaino's preparations severely disrupted, forcing coach Steve Hansen to look at alternatives such as Liam Messam, Elliott Dixon and Liam Squire.

Meanwhile, The Blues face the Brumbies in Canberra on Sunday.

Gifted young Maori All Black loose forward Akira Ioane has his opportunity to shine when he starts this weekend.

Ioane has big shoes to fill for his third start of the season at No 8, with inspirational Kaino ruled out. 

Coach Tana Umaga said while the loss of Kaino is a blow for the team, it presents an opportunity for gifted Ioane who has played in all eight games this season mostly off the bench.

It is the only change in the pack from the last game against the Hurricanes before the bye, with All Black Steven Luatua moving to his preferred blindside flank role, and Ioane taking over at No 8.

Taranaki and Maori All Black lock Leighton Price, called into the squad this week for the rest of the season as a replacement, will be pressed into immediate action on the bench, with Patrick Tuipulotu, Jimmy Tupou and Josh Goodhue all ruled out with injury.

All Black prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi will reach his milestone of 50 games for the Blues, when he gets a likely call off the bench this weekend, while newly selected English international, Piers Francis reaches his 20th and Blazer game.

Midfielder George Moala is recalled to the starting line-up to form an All Black midfield with Sonny Bill Williams, with Rieko Ioane moving to the left wing.

Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Leighton Price, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Melani Nanai.

Date: Sunday, April 30
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 17.05 (19.05 NZ Time; 06.05 GMT)
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Ed Martin (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

AFP & @BluesRugbyTeam

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 29 July 2017
Crusaders v Chiefs 07h35 Christchurch
Golden Lions v Griquas 10h00 Johannesburg
Lions v Hurricanes 12h30 Ellis Park
Sharks v Pumas 15h00 Durban
Sun, 30 July 2017
Free State Cheetahs v Western Province 12h30 Bloemfontein
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 23 July 2017
Pumas v Golden Lions 43 | 36
Sat, 22 July 2017
Griquas v Blue Bulls 45 | 51
Stormers v Chiefs 11 | 17
Lions v Sharks 23 | 21
Crusaders v Highlanders 17 | 0
Fri, 21 July 2017
Free State Cheetahs v Sharks 47 | 12
Brumbies v Hurricanes 16 | 35
Sat, 15 July 2017
Sharks v Lions 10 | 27
Bulls v Stormers 33 | 41
Force v Waratahs 40 | 11
Hurricanes v Crusaders 31 | 22
Chiefs v Brumbies 28 | 10
Sunwolves v Blues 43 | 21
Fri, 14 July 2017
Kings v Cheetahs 20 | 21
Rebels v Jaguares 29 | 32
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 6 0 9 34
Force 15 6 0 9 26
Reds 15 4 0 11 21
Waratahs 15 4 0 11 19
Rebels 15 1 1 13 9
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 15 14 0 1 63
Hurricanes 15 12 0 3 58
Chiefs 15 12 1 2 57
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 51
Blues 15 7 1 7 37
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 0 5 43
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Bulls 15 4 0 11 20
Sunwolves 15 2 0 13 12
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 15 14 0 1 65
Sharks 15 9 1 5 42
Jaguares 15 7 0 8 33
Kings 15 6 0 9 28