WELLINGTON, March 12 All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will be holding his breath over the next few days as a number of players in contention to play the British and Irish Lions in June were all injured in the latest round of Super Rugby.
Winger Waisake Naholo, fullbacks Nehe Milner-Skudder and Israel Dagg, centre Seta Tamanivalu and flyhalf Lima Sopoaga all suffered leg injuries for their respective Super Rugby sides.
The injuries to Naholo and Sopoaga (both hamstrings) further added to the Otago Highlanders growing casualty list, with All Blacks vice-captain Ben Smith also out with concussion.
"It doesn't look good," Highlanders coach Tony Brown told reporters in Auckland of Naholo and Sopoaga's injuries. "It looks like Lima will be out for a while; Waisake the same.
"They don't come right overnight. Those guys are going to be tough to replace but we'll have to wait and see on Monday."
Local media reported the duo could be out of action for up to six weeks.
Dagg, who alternated between wing and fullback for the All Blacks last year, injured his knee in the Canterbury Crusaders 22-20 victory over the Queensland Reds in Brisbane and looked to be in considerable pain.
Tamanivalu, who has played on the wing for the Crusaders but made the All Blacks as a centre, also suffered a hamstring injury during the first half of the match.
Milner-Skudder, who missed almost all of last season with a shoulder injury, suffered an ankle injury in the Wellington Hurricanes' 26-18 loss to the Waikato Chiefs on Friday and had to be helped from the field.
"I saw him in the changing rooms he looked a little bit sore," Hurricanes and All Blacks scrumhalf TJ Perenara told Fairfax Media.
"Hopefully he'll be alright. It's stink for him because he came off missing almost all of last season so to come back in and get injured a couple of games in, it's rough." (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury,; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)