New Zealand's head coach Ian Foster has been hit with injury and bereavement losses to his squad.
Wellington (AFP) - New Zealand have called up four players after being hit by injuries and family bereavement a week out from the opening Test of their northern hemisphere tour against Japan.
Six players from Ian Foster’s 35-strong All Blacks squad, including the three Barrett brothers, didn’t fly out with the team on Saturday and none are likely to play against the Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo.
Foster revealed Beauden, Jordie and Scott Barrett will remain in New Zealand to attend the funeral of their grandmother and will rejoin the squad later next week.
Scrum-half Folau Fakatava, who made his Test debut against Ireland in July, is ruled out of the tour after suffering a serious knee injury at training on Thursday that will require several months’ recovery time.
Two first-choice players – lock Sam Whitelock and winger Will Jordan – have both developed inner ear conditions and it is unclear when they will be fit to play.
Foster told journalists veteran forward Whitelock could be ready for the first of three Tests in Europe, against Wales on November 6. It precedes Tests against Scotland and England.
“Will’s probably a little bit worse than Sam, so we’ll just let you know as soon as we’re clear, but we didn’t see any value in bringing them over and having to deal with that,” Foster said.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a setback, but its just a readjustment, let’s call it that.”
The four players added to the tour squad are utility back Damian McKenzie, scrum-half Brad Weber, lock Patrick Tuipulotu and hooker Asafo Aumua.
The foursome, who tally more than 100 caps between them, had been named in a New Zealand second-tier squad which will play two matches in Europe in November.