Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

All Blacks: Toomaga-Allen replaces injured Moody

Joe Moody in action for Canterbury. Photo / Getty Images
Joe Moody in action for Canterbury. Photo / Getty Images

Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, who withdraw because of a knee injury from the All Blacks earlier this year has been picked for his maiden international voyage as a replacement prop.

The 22-year-old flew to Auckland today and leaves tomorrow for Japan with the All Black squad instead of Joe Moody who broke his leg in the ITM Cup final.

When the All Black selectors convened to pick over their options, they decided to take an apprentice loosehead prop and while Toomaga-Allen usually plays tighthead he has apparently been training a fair bit in his new position.

That verdict was hard lines for Ben Afeaki who is on the NZ Maori tour and Ben Tameifuna who was on the fringes of the squad last season.

"We have spoken to Joe and he is obviously very disappointed but we have reassured him you can't lose too much ground while you are injured. He has just got to deal with the adversity the best he can and get back into a positive frame of mind and working hard,'' coach Steve Hansen said.

"Out of his misery comes an opportunity for somebody else and we could have easily talent a tighthead prop but we feel the need to develop another loosehead with both Woody (Tony Woodcock) and Wyatt (Crockett) being a little older.

"We have been quietly working away on a wee project with Jeff Toomaga-Allen playing tighthead but actually doing some work on the loosehead, so he will come in as a loosehead replacement.''

The selectors have also decided on the All Blacks and loose forward project Ardie Savea who will bypass the test in Japan although five eighths Aaron Cruden will fly there to do some promotional work and then fly to France.

Those going early to France are Tony Woodcock, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock, Kieran Read, Liam Messam, Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Julian Savea and his younger brother.

None of the players involved in the ITM Cup final did much training today as most had spent a long night with their teammates and then an early flight to Auckland.

Initially Kieran Read was going to captain the test side in Japan but his work in that role while Richie McCaw was unavailable then injured and the need to play him and Daniel Carter, meant a change in plans.

"If Dan didn't come to Japan it would be eight weeks since he was involved and that would be a tall order to go into a French test without any rugby so the only course we have got is to give him some game time.''

Cruden and Beauden Barrett had both got plenty of work in Carter's injury absence so that worked out quite neatly.

"We are just doing what is right for the team around those two areas,'' Hansen said.

The talent in the squad was exciting but Hansen was not getting carried away with ideas beyond Japan. After that test France would be a tough project and only then would he, the staff and players get down to details about their meeting with England, the last side to defeat the All Blacks.

"England aren't on my mind at the moment and I get a bit frustrated hearing about England,'' he said.

"The biggest challenge will be being in one place with one mind because we have a few extra guys. We have to make sure we stay connected as one and really go out and prepare well as I harp about a lot, that is a key to having fun on Saturday.''

The All Blacks were content with the style they were trying to play and the rest was about adapting to the work from the opposition, the weather and different conditions.

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