PARIS (AP) — New Zealand drafted flanker Ethan Blackadder into its Rugby World Cup squad on Saturday amid concerns over the fitness of captain Sam Cane.
The All Blacks named Blackadder as an injury replacement for wing Emoni Narawa, who is out of the tournament, and chose to add loose forward cover after Cane was ruled out of Friday's opening-game loss to France just before kickoff with a back problem.
Blackadder's call-up was to “reinforce the loose forward stock," coach Ian Foster said, although he added the management team was confident that openside flanker Cane's injury was ”not long-term."
"Having Ethan in just gives us a little bit of extra protection in that space,” Foster said.
Foster said he was still uncertain if Cane would be available for New Zealand's second Pool A game against Namibia next Friday.
“Whether he’ll be right for Namibia, I couldn’t tell you at the moment,” Foster said. "But the medics don’t seem overly concerned by it at the moment.”
The All Blacks have other injuries to work through after losing for the first time in the pool stage at a Rugby World Cup.
Another flanker, Shannon Frizell, is still unavailable, as is prop Tyrel Lomax, who sustained a deep cut to his right thigh in a warmup game against South Africa. Lomax might be ready for the third pool game against Italy on Sept. 29, Foster said.
Center Jordie Barrett, who also missed the opener against France with a left knee problem, was improving, Foster said, while lock Brodie Retallick is back near full fitness after playing the last 10 minutes against France.
AP Rugby World Cup: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby