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All Blacks injury list no issue: Foster

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/05/2017 Angelo Risso
All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster © Getty Images All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster has soothed growing panic over the Test side's injury crisis in the lead-up to the British and Irish Lions series, saying anxiety over niggles to key players is mostly unwarranted.

The world champions have had their playing stocks decimated in the first half of the Super Rugby campaign, with stalwarts including Jerome Kaino, Dane Coles, Israel Dagg, Ben Smith and skipper Kieran Read all currently hurt.

The list doesn't end there either, with fringe players including Lima Sopoaga and Liam Squire also injured and Nehe Milner-Skudder again on the treatment table.

Sonny Bill Williams, just back from a ruptured achilles tendon, is also battling a concussion picked up in last week's win over the Waratahs.

Read and Kaino in particular - battling a broken thumb and torn meniscus respectively - are unlikely to play much rugby before the side's warm-up Test against Samoa on June 16, while the concussed Coles and Williams are day-by-day propositions.

The first Test against the Lions is in Auckland on June 24.

Nevertheless, Foster told reporters he and the other All Blacks coaches weren't overly concerned by the ever-growing casualty ward, saying the players were well monitored in their rehabilitations by their Super Rugby franchises.

He was confident Read, the side's captain, would be right for the first Test, and said the same for veteran and two-time world champion Kaino.

"I know there's a bit of anxiety about it, but there were eight weeks to the Test and it was a six-week injury," Foster said of the broken thumb Read sustained against the Cheetahs.

"We know they're in good hands, they're doing the right things and time will be the judge.

"Right now there's a reasonably significant list, but if you look at the time-frames and returning dates, we're still feeling pretty comfortable."

Foster also confirmed that the All Blacks coaching staff were impressed by the form of Hurricanes young gun Jordie Barrett, who served as the squad apprentice during last year's end-of-year tour to the United States and Europe.

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