Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Shoulder surgery puts All Black prop out for season

Cory Jane  looks to pass during the All Blacks' hit-outs against North Harbour and Northland last night. Photo /
Getty Images
Cory Jane looks to pass during the All Blacks' hit-outs against North Harbour and Northland last night. Photo / Getty Images

The All Blacks have taken a hit as they survey the rest of their international year without veteran loose-head prop Tony Woodcock who is heading for shoulder surgery.

An operation and lengthy recovery will remove Woodcock until next year's Super 15 and has opened room in the squad for Joe Moody.

"Every dark cloud has a bit of silver lining and for him [Woodcock] it will be the opportunity to do something he hasn't done for 12 seasons and that's get a good off-season," coach Steve Hansen said.

"It will be important because it will freshen him up and I'm pretty sure he'll be hungry getting into it next year."

Woodcock has played 110 tests since his 2002 debut when the All Blacks took a depleted group on the end of year tour. He was not selected the next season but since 2004 has been a regular first choice.

Backup lock Dominic Bird is also out of the squad for the next three weeks because of a toe injury and has been replaced by Jeremy Thrush. There is also some concern about Patrick Tuipulotu who is struggling with an ankle problem and did not play in last night's hit-out against North Harbour and Northland at Albany.

Woodcock hurt his shoulder in the latter stages of the Blues season and after a month of medical consultation, it was decided his best avenue was surgery.

Others who sat out the match last night were Ben Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw, Colin Slade, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Israel Dagg, Owen Franks, Liam Messam, Wyatt Crockett and Joe Moody.

The All Blacks romped through the first spell against Harbour to stop the scoreboard at 41-5. Northland hung tough for long periods in their 40 minutes against the All Blacks, only beaten 19-7.

Flanker Sam Cane went off early with a cut to his head and Steven Luatua suffered cramp but they were the only injuries.

Hansen was satisfied with players like Liam Squire and Shane Christie who have joined the extended squad sessions. "Some of the guys haven't played for a while and in the second half that showed and we got exactly what we needed," Hansen said.

- NZ Herald

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