9 Jul 2015

ABs injury report OK, now for Pumas

5:09 pm on 9 July 2015

The All Blacks have no real injury concerns after the brutal and historic Test against Manu Samoa in Apia, and the selectors will now sift their options for next Friday's Test against Argentina in Christchurch.

Coach Steve Hansen says wing George Moala seems fine after his head knock, though he's being monitored, while lock Luke Romano's eye injury doesn't appear serious, though he's getting a scan back here in New Zealand.

Hansen says they'll reduce the squad to 34, with six players still to be trimmed from the original 41-player squad, and a matchday 23 picked from that.

Steve Hansen on duty at Apia Park

Steve Hansen on duty at Apia Park Photo: Photosport

Charlie Ngatai is already in Suva to captain the Māori All Blacks against Fiji on Saturday.

The 17 Highlanders and Hurricanes players who weren't involved in the Apia Test are set to have a training run Saturday morning in Christchurch, with the rest of the squad linking up with them in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, Hansen's optimistic about the chances of the All Blacks not waiting another 91 years to play in Samoa again.

"Yeah I'd say there'd be a high likelihood," said Hansen. "The biggest problem we've got is being able to fit it into the calendar, but I think there'd be a willingness to come back after what we've experienced this time."

Hansen says he thought his captain Richie McCaw was outstanding, Daniel Carter is improving, wing George Moala scored a lovely try and fellow debutant, the prop Nepo Laulala, was good as well.

All Blacks wing George Moala in action against Manu Samoa

All Blacks wing George Moala in action against Manu Samoa Photo: Photosport

He says the Samoa Test may well be the only chance the fringe players brought into the squad as cover get to impress ahead of the World Cup, but part of bringing them in was also looking ahead to next year as well.

Hansen says they didn't make the initial 41-strong squad and unless the team gets injuries, that's probably it.

"But all of them have done a pretty good job, so they can be satisfied. A little bit of that is about next year as well, we've got a lot of... old faces leaving, and we're going to need some new faces and some of these guys that are here on this trip I'm sure will be there or thereabouts next year."

Hansen now a Samoan chief; PM worried

The All Blacks coach was bestowed with a chiefly matai title following the game, with a traditional ceremony taking place in the village of Vaiala in Apia.

Hansen now sports the title of Tupuivao, after the family of former MP Patu Ativalu Togi II decided to honour him because of his close friendship with one of his nephews.

After the bestowal ceremony Hansen said it was something he'll remember for ever, calling it "really moving".

"I mean quite spiritual. It just makes you appreciate Samoa even more."

Samoa Prime Minister and rugby union chairman Tuilaepa Sailele Maleilegaoi also attended the ceremony and joked that his country would now be open to more raids of their promising players by New Zealand.

"From now on I will have trouble retaining my Manu Samoa boys," Maleilegaoi said. "They will all want to serve you, another prominent chief."