10 Jun 2014

Smith set for rare start at 15 for ABs?

5:38 pm on 10 June 2014

The Highlanders back Ben Smith could make a rare start for the All Blacks at fullback against England, in front of his home crowd, with the incumbent Israel Dagg taking limited part in Tuesday's training due to a knee complaint.

Smith spent most of the running at fullback in the All Blacks backline with Dagg watching on, with his thigh and knee problems that saw him subbed at Eden Park likely to see him rested for the Dunedin game.

That will free Ben Smith to start his first Test in his preferred fullback position.

Coach Ian Foster, however, is coy on the possibility of Smith starting at number 15 in front of the Dunedin faithful.

Foster says Dagg's knee injury will be re-assessed on Thursday and a call on who will start at fullback will be made then.

Wing Julian Savea, who missed last week's narrow win at Eden Park due to a knee injury, ran freely at practice and is odds-on to reclaim his place on the All Blacks edge, which would push Cory Jane back onto his preferred right wing.

Kieran Read trained again but is unlikely to be risked until the third Test as the coaches continue their caution with his concussion problems.