Nonu ruled out for Kiwis
Ireland's summer opponents, the All Blacks, have been dealt a massive blow with the news that Ma'a Nonu, a try scorer in the easy dismissal of Ireland at Croke Park two years ago, will miss the return clash after being ruled out for up to two months with knee trouble.
Nonu joins hooker Andrew Hore, utility back Isaia Toeava, winger Sitiveni Sivivatu, reserve out-half Mike Delany, full-back Mils Muliaina and lock Ali Williams on a lengthy injury list that will force coach Graham Henry to radically rejig his plans.
"We had settled on a squad of 26, there was a couple of grey areas there but with the injuries in the latest round of Super 14, it's obviously caused a rethink," said Henry, acknowledging that the Crusaders -- home of Richie McCaw and Dan Carter among others -- have reached this weekend's Super 14 semi-finals.
"There's probably going to be another couple announced before very much longer as well," added Henry.
Classy Muliaina broke his thumb during the Super 14 but is expected to return to play some club rugby, starting this weekend, as he battles to be fit for the June 12 Test against Ireland in New Plymouth.
Meanwhile, Australia coach Robbie Deans has revealed he will be missing a staggering 15 players as he prepares to face Ireland in Brisbane next month.
Scrum-half Will Genia was the latest addition to the list of crocks last weekend, with a knee ligament tear, joining a host of front-rowers (props Ben Daley, Benn Robinson, Sekope Kepu and hooker Stephen Moore) as well as back-five heavyweights James Horwill and Wycliff Palu.
"There will be some surprises in our squad," said Deans of his squad unveiling next week. "I doubt there will be anyone who will pick the exact combination. Then again, we don't know what it is yet."
Stirling Mortlock, Christian Lealiifano, Rod Davies, Scott Higginbotham, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu and Peter Kimlin are also on the casualty list.