Rugby World Cup: All Blacks prop Tyrel Lomax progressing well in bid to return for quarter-final

The All Blacks may well get a massive quarter final boost this week, with tighthead prop Tyrel Lomax’s knee injury progressing better than expected.  

It means Lomax remains in contention to feature against Ireland on Sunday (NZ time) - a player they could certainly do with as they face up to a daunting quarter-final challenge.   

Coach Ian Foster has left the door open for Lomax to overcome a troublesome knee injury suffered against Uruguay in time for this weekend's showdown.  

"He's getting better by the day," said Foster. "He's better than we expected.

"I couldn't definitively tell you that he's in, but he's definitely not out yet either, so I'll take that as a positive." 

The injury isn't as severe as initially thought, Foster explained.

"It's just a strain. He's had an injury there before, so how much of it is a strain and how much old scar tissue is not quite clear yet, but the signs today are looking really good."

Lomax was a minor participant at Monday's training in Lyon - the All Blacks' last in Lyon, before heading north to Paris, where the red-hot Irish await.

Ian Foster.
Ian Foster. Photo credit: Getty Images

With or without Lomax, Foster has had an eye on this quarter final match up for some time.  

Earlier this year, he attended several Six Nations matches, including Ireland’s, to get an early read on what his knockout picture may look like.  

"There’s a difference between your scouting planning and your planning when you actually know you’re playing them," Foster explained.

"When you know you're playing them 100 percent, you're working off their trends the last two or three weeks - pulling all that apart and seeing how it fits with what we knew earlier."

What they've always known is that Ireland is riding a wave of confidence. They've set the standard in France, with Sunday's demolition of Scotland just the latest example of a team who can execute their gameplan perfectly.

And Foster is happy to heap the pressure on the men in green.  

"This is probably their moment. If they’re ever going to win a World Cup ,they probably feel like it's now."

But knockout rugby is different. Quarter-finals haven’t been happy hunting grounds for Ireland, having never before made it past this juncture.

It's clear many expect them to this time though.  

"It doesn't really interest me," said Foster. "I'm not big on claiming underdogs or claiming favourites, I know we believe."  

They’'ll need more than that to overcome the best team in the world and avoid an early flight home.  

Join us at 8am Sunday for live updates of the All Blacks v Ireland quarter-final