Rugby: Injured trio to miss Shield challenge

By Gregor Paul

The full extent of Joe Rokocoko's hamstring injury and Daniel Braid's ankle sprain will be known tomorrow.

Both limped off during Auckland's comeback win against Bay of Plenty on Friday night, throwing into question their availability not just for the rest of the campaign but for the All Blacks' end-of-season tour.

The early indications are that Rokocoko's hamstring is not badly torn and that he will only miss the Ranfurly Shield challenge against Wellington next weekend.

But hamstrings are notoriously fragile, particularly in highly tuned athletes like Rokocoko.

Braid's injury is harder to assess due to the swelling. He will have his ankle x-rayed and will be assessed by the Auckland medical staff tomorrow morning.

The prognosis for first five-cum-fullback Lachie Munro has, unfortunately, been confirmed as bleak. The 21-year-old has dislocated his elbow and will not play again this year.

The injuries are a major blow to Auckland, who will miss all three for what looms as their biggest challenge of this season when they face the high-flying Wellington at Eden Park this Saturday.

Braid and Rockocoko bring international experience to the side as well as leadership. There is quality cover for Braid in the form of Onosai Auva'a and Watisoni Lotawa can start on the wing in place of Rokocoko.

The issue of who replaces Munro at first-five is much thornier. That has been Auckland's problem position all season and coach Shane Howarth will be making a case for Isaia Toeava to be granted permission to play.

Under the collective agreement, the All Black squad is entitled to take the next two weeks off and it is a break coach Graham Henry is keen for his players to take.

But Toeava has only been on light duties since being drafted into the squad for the test in Cape Town and Auckland will be desperate for him to be released so he can fill at No 10.

- Herald on Sunday

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