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Injuries pose challenge for Robertson ahead of first All Blacks squad announcement

Injuries pose challenge for Robertson ahead of first All Blacks squad announcement

All BlacksMay 15, 2024

Injuries are the uncontrollables that have the potential to keep new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson awake at night six weeks out from naming his first 32-man national squad.

Robertson said Tuesdays were when he and his selectors got together for their case management reports to review all the players on the injury list who had had their scans and injuries assessed since the weekend..

As the weeks counted towards their team announcement, the concern about injuries grew, but he said time was also spent ensuring they were getting their combinations right.

They had to consider what versatility players could offer them while keeping in mind that their squad was for two Tests against England and then against Fiji in San Diego.

Robertson said flanker Sam Cane had stepped back from the captaincy role before there had been any conversations about the captaincy.

"He was at home at that stage, and FaceTimed Jason Ryan and me and talked us through it. He was personable and wanted to make sure he could look us in the eyes and tell us what he was thinking.

"By the end of the conversation, it was clear that the offer he had got was the right thing for him and his family.

"It was a great process and we're pleased with the outcome for him."


"He's earned and deserved it, as we all know what he's put himself and his body through and what he's given the country.

"That process took a couple of weeks to talk through and then the contractural side of it was done."

Cane is still recovering from a back injury in Japan but is expected to be available for the All Blacks' Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship games against Argentina, the first in the Championship for the All Blacks, starting on August 10.

"He's got to perform to be involved with the All Blacks, he knows that. He's been involved with leadership meetings already."

Robertson said he knew what to say and at the right time. As a player with 95 Test matches, he knows what it takes.

"If he performs, it's up to me to pick him."

Will Jordan is on the same schedule after a successful operation and was tracking well in his rehabilitation.

Robertson said the side's captain would be named when the 32-man team is announced on the Monday after the Super Rugby Pacific final. That person would be someone the players would follow on the field.

"They have to start, they have to be world-class in their position, and someone the players respect."

The selectors have had great opportunities to look at their prospective players, to see what they're like under pressure and their traits.

"We'll use all the games that we possibly can, right to the end, to make sure we make the right decision for the announcement."

Players in Super Rugby have shown some good form, and he said Saturday's Blues-Hurricanes game was a great spectacle.

"There were a couple of fine moments there when you're getting decisions from the referee, decisions from players. When you're defending mauls for long periods, when you're defending your goal line. That's when your defence discipline and care for the team is showing. 

"There was a lot from both sides with some big carries and great defence. All that stuff, all the skills required, especially in those derbies, are probably the closest things to finals and Test matches. It was a great spectacle for us."

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