Hooker Aled de Malmanche has been plucked from a Bali holiday for a potential bench spot against England at Twickenham after All Black Corey Flynn suffered a hamstring strain.
De Malmanche was on Tuesday summoned to London as cover after Flynn suffered the strain at the end of All Blacks training which consisted of soccer and touch rugby at Latymer Upper School.
While All Blacks coach Graham Henry was hopeful Flynn would recover in time to face England on Saturday, they were taking no risks with just two hookers in the 33-man squad.
“We are hopeful that Corey will recover but, as we have time on our side, we have called in Aled. We will wait and see how Corey goes this week before making a final decision,” Henry said in a statement.
All Blacks doctor Deb Robinson said: “We have started rehab work on his leg and will monitor him throughout the week.”
If Flynn were ruled out it would be another cruel injury blow, with last weekend’s Test against Italy just his sixth in an international career spanning six years.
He scored the All Blacks’ only try in Milan in his first run-on Test since the 2003 World Cup.
De Malmanche, who received the call from team management in Bali, is scheduled to arrive in London on Wednesday.
He made his All Blacks Test debut this year off the bench against Italy in Christchurch in June, and again against Australia in Wellington in September.
The dynamic Chiefs hooker, 25, was originally overlooked for the tour squad, largely due to concerns over his lineout throwing.
Meanwhile, Robinson said an x-ray had cleared All Blacks winger Ben Smith of any fractures in his badly bruised right thumb.
He trained with a fibreglass cast on his thumb, having suffered the injury in the opening minutes of his debut against Italy.
Five All Blacks – Rodney So’oialo, Andy Ellis, Mike Delany, Tamati Ellison and John Afoa – sat out training with general soreness from the bruising Milan Test but Robinson said no injuries were considered serious.