All Blacks could face a looming loose forward crisis with captain Kieran Read the latest to go down.

The bad news was offset by an encouraging return by No 1 openside Sam Cane, after a long comeback form his dreadful neck injury. Chiefs loose Cane came off the bench to good effect against the Blues.

But Read, who had major back surgery last year, was pulled out of the Crusaders match against the Stormers in Cape Town after injuring his shoulder/neck area in training.

Man down - World Cup captain Kieran Read suffered bad knock in training last week. Photo / Photosport
Man down - World Cup captain Kieran Read suffered bad knock in training last week. Photo / Photosport

With Liam Squire absent for personal reasons which have delayed his comeback from injury, it means the loosies — a longtime strength of the All Blacks — continue to shaky.

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Crusaders assistant Brad Mooar sounded doubtful when asked if Read would return against the Blues in Christchurch on Saturday, although he described the decision to omit the veteran from the Stormers game as "precautionary".

"He took a knock at training — we gave him every chance to be right. He just wasn't quite right so it wasn't worth the risk," Moar said.

"It's the shoulder and neck area...from a cleanout scenario at training. Bodies moved, he took a slight knock.

"It's a bit like a stinger that hasn't gone away. We're pretty confident he'll bounce back pretty quickly

"(selection against the Blues) is something we'll have to have a look. Whether that's the case or he needs a bit longer - the medical team will have a good look at that one the way back (form South Africa).

"It doesn't look a serious issue at this point."

Meanwhile Chiefs coach Colin Cooper enthused about Cane after the loss to the Blues.

Strong comeback - Sam Cane charges at Akira Ioane. Photo / Getty Images
Strong comeback - Sam Cane charges at Akira Ioane. Photo / Getty Images

"We tried to really manage Sam and the good thing is he got game time and he's looking good for the country. The Chiefs and the country," Cooper said.

"We saw a couple of big hits and he didn't shy off anything. It's good to see him back"

Moar said that another guaranteed World Cup selection Ryan Crotty — who has along history of concussion problems — suffered a cut during the game and was in the blood bin rather than having a head injury assessment.

Meanwhile another World Cup contender Waisake Naholo was unable to take the field against the Lions in Johannesburg because of his lingering knee problem.