Injured NZ captain Cane missing from North-South match

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - All Blacks captain Sam Cane has been left out of the North-South match on Aug. 29 as he recovers from a concussion sustained in the Waikato Chiefs’ final Super Rugby Aotearoa match earlier this month.

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - New Zealand Captains Run - Surenois Rugby Club, Suresnes, France - November 10, 2017 New Zealand's Sam Cane during the captains run REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

All Blacks coach Ian Foster named the two squads on Tuesday for the match between the composite sides that represent the country’s two main islands.

Foster told reporters on a conference call that Cane had not begun his “return-to-play protocols” in terms of training yet as the Chiefs did not play the final weekend of the domestic competition.

“Sam Cane has been taking some time,” Foster said.

“He is looking really good and he’s getting better every day. We’re hopeful that he won’t take too long. But it’s more of a precautionary thing.”

Cane was not the only All Blacks player missing through injury with Dane Coles, Scott Barrett and Ngani Laumape not considered, although they could become available for the All Blacks in late October, Foster said.

The game is scheduled for Eden Park in Auckland but New Zealand Rugby have placed Wellington Regional Stadium on standby due to renewed COVID-19 restrictions in Auckland and the teams will assemble in Wellington next Monday.

The North-South match was an annual fixture for much of the 20th century but has only been played twice since 1986. The last game was in Dunedin in 2012 to raise funds for the Otago Rugby Union.

“It is great to reconnect with our history,” All Blacks selector Grant Fox said. “I was fortunate enough to play in three of these matches.

“They were special matches to be part of and ... reconnecting with our history has been the right way to go rather than have an All Blacks trial.

“The players are excited. The coaches are excited.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Stephen Coates & Shri Navaratnam