After a season of minimal injury dramas, medical alerts for the All Blacks yesterday started bouncing round the nation.

Injuries to Luke McAlister and Rene Ranger in successive provincial matches, allied to a recent season-ending injury to Richard Kahui, suddenly gave a leaner look to the midfield talent, which needs to be culled anyway before the All Blacks' end-of-year trip.

When McAlister left North Harbour Stadium for x-rays, the medics and coach Craig Dowd were resigned to losing the second five-eighths for the rest of the season with a broken jaw. Across the city at Pukekohe, Ranger was limping off with hamstring damage.

With Isaia Toeava still to return after pelvic surgery, the midfield resources were not looking so plentiful.

However first-year All Black Benson Stanley has resumed playing after a lull since his June debut while Sonny Bill Williams has brought all sorts of inspection since the start of his Canterbury career.

Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith are in cotton wool before the October 17 announcement of the squad for the five-test tour starting next month.

As Harbour coach Dowd and his assistant Jeff Wilson mulled over alternative midfield plans for their next ITM Cup match against Counties Manukau on Sunday, Dowd's phone rang. It was McAlister.

His jaw had taken a fair hit but there was no structural damage. The midfielder, Harbour and the All Blacks had dodged a bullet.

McAlister had played strongly for the 43 minutes he was involved against Manawatu. He muffed an early offload but then worked into his game, making numerous breaks and working hard in defence and off the ball.

If he scrubs up fine this week, there may be a tasty duel between McAlister and former All Black teammate Tana Umaga on Sunday at Pukekohe.

Meanwhile, Manawatu will have All Black five-eighths Aaron Cruden back for Sunday's match against Tasman in Palmerston North.

Coach Dave Rennie wanted Cruden to play yesterday but was forced to abide by the fortnight stand-down rule recommended by the players' collective and endorsed by the national selectors.

Cruden suffered an ankle strain in his first All Black start against the Wallabies in Sydney this month but has recovered fully.

In this week's round of the ITM Cup, he will join the All Blacks in action though Ranger's involvement against Waikato remains uncertain while Liam Messam will join the sevens side at the Commonwealth Games.

Auckland will have John Afoa, Stanley and probably Joe Rokocoko available.

The All Black wing has been on leave but has indicated he wants to play for Auckland against Hawkes Bay at Eden Park on Friday.

Rokocoko is favoured by the All Black panel but he must be under serious heat for his touring place because of the challengers such as Hosea Gear, Zac Guildford and perhaps Sitiveni Sivivatu.

Auckland loose forward captain Daniel Braid has recovered from the head knock he suffered in the unsuccessful Ranfurly Shield challenge against Southland and five-eighths Matt Berquist has also reported fit after a knee problem.