New Zealand forwards Steven Luatua and Patrick Tuipulotu have been ruled out for the rest of the Super XV season because of injury, the Auckland Blues said yesterday.
Powerful loose forward Luatua, who has played 14 Tests for the All Blacks over the past two seasons, dislocated his shoulder against the Northern Bulls on Friday last week, while seven-cap lock Tuipulotu has aggravated a long-standing hip injury.
“Both players require further tests prior to any decisions about their prognosis and management,” the Blues said in a statement.
Luatua was acting captain for the 23-18 victory over South Africa’s Bulls, which moved the Blues further off the bottom of the standings, because of a Super XV season-ending injury to All Blacks first-choice back-rower Jerome Kaino.
Prop Tony Woodcock, who has won 110 caps for his nation and scored the only try in the 2011 Rugby World Cup final, is also set to miss next weekend’s match against the table-topping Wellington Hurricanes because of a shoulder injury.
There was better news for outside back Charles Piutau and his bid to force his way back into Steve Hansen’s squad for this year’s World Cup before he heads to Ulster next season.
The 23-year-old has made a better-than-expected recovery from a knee injury he suffered against the Western Force on May 2 and could be available before the end of the Super XV season on the weekend of June 12 and June13.
The All Blacks open their international season against Samoa in Apia on July 8.
New Zealand then play Rugby Championship Tests against Argentina in Christchurch, New Zealand, on July 17 and South Africa in Johannesburg on July 25 before back-to-back matches against Australia in Sydney and Auckland, New Zealand, on Aug. 8 and Aug. 15 respectively.
Their World Cup defense begins against Argentina at Wembley Stadium in London on Sept. 20.
The World Cup is to run from Sept. 18 through Sept. 31.
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