Smith, McAlister ruled out of Tri-Nations

Utility back Isaia Toeava has been recalled to the All Blacks after confirmation on Thursday that the injured midfield pairing of Luke McAlister and Conrad Smith will miss the rest of the Tri-Nations series.

McAlister fractured his right cheekbone in a heavy tackle while Smith strained his left hamstring during the All Blacks’ 19-18 win over the Wallabies in Sydney last weekend.

All Blacks doctor Deb Robinson said McAlister would undergo surgery on Friday.

”He will have several small plates inserted into his face to fix the fractures and, if all goes well, he will be able to return to rugby after four weeks,” Robinson said.

A scan showed Smith had suffered a significant hamstring strain and he is expected to undergo a rehabilitation programme, which will allow him to play again in four to six weeks, Robinson said.

The All Blacks have two remaining Tri-Nations matches, one each against South Africa and Australia to be played at home in September.

All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith wished the injured pair a speedy return to rugby.

”It’s tough for both Luke and Conrad, who both played outstandingly well on the weekend and showed a lot of character before they were injured,” Smith said.

Toeava has been in and out of the All Blacks team during his 24-Test career and is returning to the squad after recovering from a foot stress fracture. — Sapa-AFP

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