Rugby World Cup: All Blacks veteran Joe Moody potentially on standby in NZ as Foster sweats on Tyrel Lomax injury

The All Blacks are back to relative full health for next week's World Cup quarter-final in France - with one glaring exception.   

Prop Tyrel Lomax exited Friday's demolition of Uruguay in their pool finale with a knee injury inside the opening 10 minutes, causing consternation within the NZ coaching ranks.   

The match was Lomax's first start of the tournament, after he suffered a knee laceration during the warm-up defeat to the Springboks.   

Coach Ian Foster's immediate assessment was encouraging and he maintained a similarly positive stance at Lyon on Saturday (NZ time).   

While Lomax's exact status is still be determined with further testing, the latest intel from Foster indicates his issue - initially diagnosed as medial ligament-related - isn't "overtly significant".   

"We're just getting some scans now," said Foster. "It's definitely looking like a medial.

"Doesn’t look overtly significant, but we'll let you know."   

The All Blacks expect to have a better idea in the next 24 hours of Lomax's prospects for next Sunday's quarter-final showdown in Paris, which is highly likely to be against Ireland.    

Joe Moody.
Joe Moody. Photo credit: Getty Images

Nevertheless, Foster appears to have begun putting contingency plans in place. Experienced prop Joe Moody was withdrawn from Canterbury's NPC quarter-final against Auckland on Friday night, a move potentially made to ensure he's available, should Lomax's prognosis turn out to be more severe.   

The 57-test international and veteran of the 2019 World Cup campaign hasn't featured for the All Blacks, since the ill-fated 2021 European tour, when they were soundly beaten by Ireland and France. While Moody is a loosehead prop, Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Tamaiti Williams can play either side of the scrum.

Fletcher Newell impressed replacing Lomax off the bench against Uruguay, but was also forced from the field with injury, although Foster insists his departure was merely precautionary.   

Foster says they'll be cautious with any potential use of a replacement player, particularly given the value Lomax provides to the All Blacks tight-five.   

The Mako front-rower stamped his mark emphatically on the test stage late last season and has since become an automatic selection as the team's starting tighthead.   

His presence will be crucial against the heavyweight Irish pack and - as the All Blacks hope - beyond, meaning they won't be making any rash decisions about sending Lomax back to New Zealand prematurely. Replacements can't officially join a World Cup squad, until the player being replaced is ruled out and cannot continue. 

Working in New Zealand's favour are the two extra days they've been afforded by the schedule, with nine full days to assess and prepare for their first knockout contest.   

"If you jump in early, you can't get that player back and that's very much on our mind," Foster explained. "We'll use the next 48 hours to give ourselves a bit more time to assess that.    

"If it's not a significant injury, we've got to keep someone like Tyrel out for a game and we might be a bit more loathe to make that replacement."   

France's dominant win over Italy on Saturday means the All Blacks are locked into a second-place finish in Pool A, with only a Scotland upset win over Ireland on Sunday able to deny them a quarter-final encounter with the Six Nations champions.   

Foster is reluctant to start gameplanning for the Irish just yet, but is satisfied with the way his squad have progressed into the business end of the tournament.   

"It's probably a bit early for me to talk about that," Foster said. "Overall, I think most parts of our game are trending in the right direction.   

"The game is pretty simple - you get your set-piece right, you get your contacts and your breakdown right, and you get your skill level right. It's just a matter of where we want to put our emphasis this week, based on who we're playing.   

"It's quite nice to have a bit of breathing space for the next 48 hours, as we figure that out, and we'll probably get a clear plan Sunday or Monday, as we would normally do.   

"We'll take our time, until we've got all of the right information."