6 Oct 2015

Injury niggles hamper All Blacks preparation

1:25 pm on 6 October 2015

Injury niggles are hampering the All Blacks' preparation for their final Rugby World Cup pool match against Tonga in Newcastle this weekend.

Waisake Naholo scores an early try during the All Blacks v Georgia Rugby World Cup match.

Waisake Naholo scores an early try during the All Blacks v Georgia Rugby World Cup match. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

While the injured quartet of first-fives Beauden Barrett and Colin Slade, second-five Ma'a Nonu and loose forward Liam Messam were all back in training on Monday in the northern English city, three other All Blacks played a limited role.

Wing Waisake Naholo wasn't running at full speed, after copping a bruise on the leg he fractured, while prop Charlie Faumuina sat out with a hamstring concern.

And midfielder Sonny Bill Williams was fighting a bout of the flu.

Assistant coach Ian Foster said the injuries were not thought to be serious.

"We'll assess those guys [over] the next 24 hours, before we make final decisions on whether we've got a full group or whether we put some guys on ice, but overall we're in a pretty good space."

The team to play Tonga will be named on Thursday morning. But how to juggle game time for the three wingers in the squad is shaping up to be one of the big struggles for the All Blacks selectors this week.

While Naholo played a limited role in training, he was expected to be fit to play and the coaches have said they are keen to give him another run.

Incumbent Julian Savea has scored five tries in his last two matches, while Nehe Milner-Skudder was man of the match in his last outing against Namibia.

Foster said it made for a difficult decision.

"Certainly Nehe has done very, very well and we'd love to get him back on the park pretty quick so he stays in the groove, and for Waisake, he needs a bit of game time too and Jules is certainly responding to game time, so it makes it a tough choice."

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