Rugby World Cup 2019: Ardie Savea doubtful for All Blacks' third-fourth playoff

Flanker Ardie Savea is the only All Blacks player unavailable to contest the Rugby World Cup third-fourth playoff on Friday.

New Zealand 'qualified' for the unpopular bronze-medal encounter, when they lost 19-7 to England in the semi-finals, with Savea scoring their only try in the second half.

But later in the match, the outstanding loose forward - a frontrunner for the All Blacks' Player of the Year award - picked up a knee injury that will keep him out of the season finale.

His absence seems likely to force at least two changes to the team that fell to the English, with regular openside flanker Sam Cane poised to return to the No.7 jersey and back-up Matt Todd now apparently fit to claim a bench spot.

rwc playoffs
Photo credit: Newshub.

Cane was controversially left out of the starting line-up on Saturday, with coach Steve Hansen preferring Scott Barrett's bulk on the blindside and Savea at openside.

Afterwards, Hansen admitted that decision had probably backfired, with Cane's speed missing at the breakdown and Barrett unable to dent England's lineout domination.

"We had a good team meeting last night and aired a few things," said Cane on Monday. "We're all in this together.

"Today was about moving forward and learning and trying to be better."

Join us at 10pm Friday for live updates of the All Blacks v Wales Rugby World Cup third-fourth playoff