All Blacks: Hoeata in frame to replace Thomson

Jarrad Hoeata is looming as a replacement for Adam Thomson as the All Blacks flanker prepares to face a judicial hearing for making contact with a Scotland opponent's head with his boot in the big victory at Murrayfield.

Thomson remained in the United Kingdom while his teammates flew to Rome today after being cited for the incident involving Alasdair Strokosch early in the second half of the All Blacks' 51-22 win.

The 30-year-old will be accompanied by assistant coach Ian Foster and European-based lawyer Owen Eastwood for the hearing at Heathrow Airport on Thursday (NZT) and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen admitted Hoeata, in England for the New Zealand Maori tour, was a possible replacement.

Hansen was reluctant to pre-empt the outcome but said he had the ability to replace Thomson in his 32-man squad.

"It will make sense to bring the next best player, so that's what we'll do, but again we're jumping to conclusions - that might be plan A or plan B,'' Hansen told media.

Hoeata, a Highlanders and Taranaki lock or loose forward, played three tests for the All Blacks last year.

Ben Smith (eye socket) and midfield partner Tamati Ellison (toe), casualties against Scotland, will undergo X-rays in Rome. The All Blacks' chartered flight arrived in the Italian capital this morning after a 90-minute delay.

Hansen added before travelling that the buttock injury which forced fullback Israel Dagg from the field in the first half wasn't serious. "He's made a good recovery this morning, but we have three hours' travel in the plane so we'll see how he comes through that and make a decision,'' Hansen said.

"He got a bit of a knock to the head, but his head's as clear as a bell this morning, so doc's pretty happy with the way he recovered. If he gets through the flight, hopefully he'll be good to go.''

- APNZ

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