Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Rugby: Sam Cane sent home to recover from concussion

Hurricanes centre Matt Proctor and Chiefs flanker Sam Cane contest a loose ball. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Hurricanes centre Matt Proctor and Chiefs flanker Sam Cane contest a loose ball. Photo / Mark Mitchell

In a week when the cultures of professional rugby teams have been under scrutiny, the All Blacks have delivered evidence theirs is rock solid by sending Sam Cane home to aid his recovery from ongoing effects of concussion.

The Chiefs skipper took a blow to the head against the Stormers in the quarter-final, was passed fit to play in the semifinal but was forced off in Wellington after another head clash.

He was supposed to come into camp with the All Blacks in Auckland today but was told to stay at home and focus on his recovery when the medics weren't satisfied he was free from concussion symptoms.

There's no ambiguity or grey areas in the All Blacks' thinking when it comes to concussion. They have a policy of eliminating from training and selection anyone who has any signs or symptoms.

That's why Cane's Chiefs teammate Charlie Ngatai was sent home in June and why, even though they didn't have adequate cover or time to send for it, Brodie Retallick flew back to New Zealand a few days before the test against the Springboks in 2014.

"Sammy Cane is suffering a bit from his head knock the other day so he's not here," said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. "We will just have to take our time. What I do know is that we won't play him if there is any risk.

"The doc will manage that process with Sam and we will give him as much time as he needs to come right and, when he's right, he'll become available for selection. Once he's right for selection, you would assume that we will pick him in the 23."

Crusaders openside Matt Todd was already with the squad, having been called in with a handful of other fringe candidates, and will remain with the team at least until Cane has been given the all clear.

Hansen also revealed that there were no Highlanders players at the camp. It was felt they would benefit more from resting rather than travelling to Auckland for two days of training having arrived home from losing their Super Rugby semifinal to the Lions at Ellis Park.

With the Hurricanes players also not in camp because of the impending Super Rugby final, the All Blacks have been short of 12 players from their 32-man squad this week. They have also had to call in Kane Hames to cover for Joe Moody, whose neck injury has progressed but not the point where he can take part in all training activities.

Despite the fact almost half the Rugby Championship squad wasn't in Auckland, Hansen remained confident the camp is worthwhile and allows the coaching team to get vital skill development work into the players.

"It is about risk and reward and the reward of giving the Highlanders boys a bit of freshening-up time we will benefit from when they come back in next week," he said. "The risk is that we are a little bit behind the eight ball but we are going to be a little bit behind the eight ball anyway so we have to be really smart about what we deliver in that first training week."

The All Blacks will disband on Friday before reconvening - all 32 players in the squad minus Sonny Bill Williams who is in Rio - next Thursday ahead of the traditional game of three halves against provincial opposition in Pukekohe on Friday night.

- NZ Herald

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