All Blacks: Last-minute withdrawals spark late call-ups for northern tour opener against Japan

Damian McKenzie, Patrick Tuipulotu, Brad Weber and Asafo Aumua have received late boarding calls for the All Blacks' flight to Tokyo, after a spate of late withdrawals for next week's northern tour opener against Japan.

Originally unwanted for the four-match trek, the trio have been summoned to fill a gaping void left by injuries to wing Will Jordan, lock Sam Whitelock and halfback Folau Fakatava, with all three Barrett brothers also remaining in New Zealand, after the death of their grandmother.

Aumua will contest Saturday's NPC final between Wellington and Canterbury, before joining the tour group as cover for veteran hooker Dane Coles, who continues to nurse a long-term calf injury.

Jordan and Whitelock have both picked up ear infections, and will likely join the team in Europe, while the Barretts are also expected to join the campaign next week.

"They're postponements more than anything," said coach Ian Foster. "Sad news for the Barrett family, with their grandmother passing away, so those three will obviously be with their family.

"Sammy's progressing really well and we would expect him there for Wales and with Will, we'll just have to see what happens." 

The news is not so promising for Fakatava, who has suffered an ACL knee injury that will rule him out of the tour and for the foreseeable future.

Damian McKenzie in action for the All Blacks
Damian McKenzie in action for the All Blacks. Photo credit: Photosport

"It's devastating," said Foster. "He's worked hard, he was excited about the tour and clearly - particularly this next game - this was a big opportunity for him

Collectively, the four replacements have amassed more than 100 tests for New Zealand, and have already been named for the All Blacks XV squad to face Ireland and the Barbarians. Foster hopes to make them available for those fixtures, as the All Blacks return to full strength.

"I wouldn't say it's a setback, but it's a readjustment," he said. "A few of those people were pencilled in to play this next game and now they won't, so let's just get on with it."

Join us for live updates of the All Blacks northern tour, starting on October 29 against Japan