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Injured Crotty in doubt for All Blacks

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/06/2017

Ryan Crotty of the Crusaders. © Getty Images Ryan Crotty of the Crusaders. Ryan Crotty is in doubt for All Blacks Tests against Samoa and the British and Irish Lions after suffering a rib injury while playing for the Crusaders.

In a sight which won't have pleased All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, a hunched-over Crotty left the field midway through the second half of his team's vital 25-22 Super Rugby win over the Highlanders in Christchurch.

Coach Scott Robertson said the 28-year-old second five-eighth had suffered rib cartilage damage, potentially sidelining him for several weeks.

"He's done a rib cartilage, so I think that Steve Hansen will be tucking into his notebook and thinking who's next," Robertson said.

Crotty, who started 11 Tests last year, has been favoured to wear No.12 in the three-Test series against the Lions starting on June 24.

He is at the head of a list of versatile midfield back candidates which includes Sonny Bill Williams, Anton Lienert-Brown, Malakai Fekitoa and George Moala.

Crotty has been in fine form in recent weeks and was among the game's best on Saturday before being forced off after taking a relatively innocuous blow.

Another concern to emerge from the same game was a head knock suffered by Highlanders captain Ben Smith, who left the ground for a concussion test soon after halftime and didn't return.

Smith, who seemed to suffer the knock when his head hit the ground in a tackle, is a near-certain selection to start Tests for New Zealand at fullback if fit.

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