Hooker Dane Coles, who has missed the entire season with a serious knee injury, was getting close to playing again
New Zealand could have a timely injection of fresh legs for Saturday’s Rugby Championship match against the Springboks with midfielders Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty (pictured) cleared to play after recovering from injuries.
Williams, who missed the opening three matches, was available after having a scan on his injured shoulder, said All Black assistant coach Ian Foster, while fellow centre Crotty was also in contention for the match in Wellington after being cleared of a head knock that triggered concussion protocols.
“Sonny had his scan yesterday and he’s all clear, ready to go, but he was sick this morning so he didn’t train, but the good news is his scan’s all clear,” Foster said.
“He’s in contention to play, it’s just some bug or something.”
The pair’s return to fitness comes at just the right time for the world champions after inside centre Ngani Laumape was ruled out for the next two to three weeks. Laumape suffered a knee ligament strain in the All Blacks’ 46-24 win over Argentina in Nelson on Saturday.
Flank Sam Cane is also back in the frame after being given a week off to get over concussion symptoms. Codie Taylor took his place in the side in Nelson. Lock and former world player of the year Brodie Retallick had yet to have a scan, Foster added, but was expected to be out for up to six weeks after suffering a shoulder injury in Saturday’s match.
Hooker Dane Coles, who has missed the entire season with a serious knee injury, was getting close to playing again.
“He’s got that glint in his eye and he’s asking questions and looking for stuff – it’s nice to see,” said Foster.
The champions will head into the match as heavy favourites against the Boks, who lost 23-18 to a depleted Wallabies side in Brisbane last week.
“We know that they’re a very good team. We saw them play in June and beat a very good England team 2-1,” added Foster.
“We know they can play.”