Rugby World Cup: No long-term injury fears for captain Sam Cane after All Blacks' historic defeat to France

All Blacks coach Ian Foster is calming any fears over the fitness of captain Sam Cane, after the flanker's late scratching from the Rugby World Cup opener against France.   

Initially named to wear the No.7 jersey and lead the side at the Stade de France, Cane suffered a back injury in the All Blacks' final preparations and played no part in the 27-13 loss.   

Cane's absence was firmly felt. Against a passionate home side, the All Blacks' discipline cost them dearly, as a lopsided penalty count added to concerns after an equally deflating record loss to South Africa two weeks ago.   

Speaking post-match, Foster revealed how the decision to withdraw Cane played out. 

Ian Foster.
Ian Foster. Photo credit: Getty Images

"He did it yesterday, late afternoon in the captain's run," Foster updated. "He was doing a bit of lifting of a jumper at kickoff, brought them down and felt his back get strained.   

"He was pretty stiff last night. We had a look at him this morning and made the decision to pull him.   

"He was certainly a lot better today than he was yesterday. He was moving well tonight.   

"[But] because we didn't have clear information about how bad that back was, we made the decision to pull him."   

However, Foster also moved to assure Cane won't join the likes of Emoni Narawa, whose World Cup was over before it began. 

Along with the rest of the squad that featured against France, Cane will be assessed by the All Blacks' medical staff, as they prepare to face Namibia in Toulouse next weekend.    

"We'll have a good look at that tomorrow but [he's] certainly freeing up all the time," Foster continued. "He says he's had it before but we'll check it out properly.    

"It's just a back string and so the back's gone into a little bit and spasm around a disk and just got to make sure that everything settles down before we push it. But it doesn't look too serious at this stage."

However, Cane's injury does leave the All Blacks exposed after going heavy in the backs when selecting their squad for the World Cup.   

Even with an injury to Brodie Retallick, who was forced to play against France despite being slated to miss the opener, Foster and his selectors went short in the forwards, leaving Tupou Vaa'i to play out of position at No.6.   

Narawa's injury will see the All Blacks name a replacement player to join them in France as early as possible, with a loose forward likely to take the winger's place.   

Foster, though, has no regrets over the initial balance of his squad.    

"Hindsight is wonderful, isn't it?" he joked. "We're really satisfied. We obviously believed in the squad we picked to come here. 


"It's incredibly sad for Emoni that he's had to succumb to an injury again. That's frustrating, I think.   

"We had a list of injured players the last 10 days, [it] has put us under a little bit of pressure. Everyone's seen that.   

"But we're pretty comfortable with the squad."   

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