Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Injury toll minimal for ABs at Suncorp

Richard Kahui, seen here with girlfriend Amy Rhodes, is one of only three World Cup casualties among the All Blacks. Picture / Christine Cornege
Richard Kahui, seen here with girlfriend Amy Rhodes, is one of only three World Cup casualties among the All Blacks. Picture / Christine Cornege

Graphs and statistics are essential tools for test rugby coaches and the All Blacks will be appreciating their injury spreadsheets.

Any charts measuring player damage will show the minimal impact in this unbeaten international season.

Across the Ditch, the information upload is far more bleak for the Wallabies as they look to host the All Blacks in 10 days in Brisbane.

The correlation between injuries and results will be underpinning the Wallaby excuse chart and irking them as they eye their third meeting against the All Blacks who have been unbeaten since the start of their World Cup campaign.

The Wallabies will be bold and brassy, noting they were the last team to beat the All Blacks as both sides wound up their preparation for last year's global tournament. Both sides were at near full strength for that match as the Wallabies won 25-20.

Their return test at the same Suncorp venue is the All Blacks' tilt at equalling the world record of 17 consecutive elite test victories as they look to celebrate Keven Mealamu's 100th test and inflict a century of defeats on the Wallabies.

Only three World Cup men are still All Blacks casualties - Colin Slade, Richard Kahui and Anthony Boric - with Ali Williams back and pushing for his end of year tour return.

In contrast the Wallabies' toll has been rising. Skipper James Horwill then his backups, David Pocock and Will Genia are injured, James O'Connor has not been sighted while there have been varying levels of damage for Drew Mitchell, Sekope Kepu, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Wycliff Palu and self-inflicted by Quade Cooper.

The All Blacks' roughest recent trot was in 2009 when they lost three of their opening six tests then squeezed past the Wallabies 19-18 in Sydney before losing to the Boks again.

Then they were dealing with injuries to Richie McCaw, Daniel Carter, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Boric, Andy Ellis, Corey Flynn, Rodney So'oialo, Kahui, Rudi Wulf, Williams and others.

For now the All Blacks have a negligible injury list and an unbroken winning sequence sitting at 16. That will come to an end sometime and damage to any of the key All Blacks components may bite into that mark next Saturday or later on the end-of-year tour.

Wales and England will be the main threats on that trip but they are already running into fitness issues.

Welsh flanker Dan Lydiate has broken his ankle, Gavin Henson is recovering from a fractured cheekbone while centre Andrew Bishop and halfback Mike Phillips have had disciplinary issues.

England have lost fullback Ben Fouden with torn ankle ligaments while hooker Dylan Hartley is recovering from eye socket damage.

Crocked Aussies
James Horwill
David Pocock
Will Genia
James O'Connor
Drew Mitchell
Sekope Kepu
Adam Ashley-Cooper
Berrick Barnes
Wycliff Palu

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- NZ Herald

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