All Blacks: Luatua to replace injured Messam

By Wynne Gray in Sydney

Blues blindside flanker Steven Luatua will make his first test start this week as a late replacement for the injured Liam Messam (pictured). Photo / Getty Images.
Blues blindside flanker Steven Luatua will make his first test start this week as a late replacement for the injured Liam Messam (pictured). Photo / Getty Images.

Blues blindside flanker Steven Luatua will make his first test start this week as a late replacement for the injured Liam Messam.

In a dramatic conclusion to the All Black preparations before they flew to Sydney for the start of the Rugby Championship, Messam damaged his hamstring at the final practice run.
"Halfway through training Liam followed a kick through and he felt his hamstring tighten," coach Steve Hansen said.

"It looks like he has damaged it badly enough to be out for a few weeks. So Liam is going home and that is disappointing because he's been in great form. But this is a great opportunity for Steven Luatua. He's worked really hard for it and he gets his chance to display his game on Saturday."

Luatua has only recovered from his own problems with a shoulder injury forcing him out for a month in the final stages of the Super 15 series. He recovered to play in last week's trial game but was later reported to have struggled with some sort of leg problem.

Luatua was picked for the June internationals against France and made his debut from the bench in the third test when he replaced Victor Vito.

- NZ Herald

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