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McKenzie in as All Blacks concerned over Smith concussions
June 25, 2017 / 1:25 AM / 6 months ago

McKenzie in as All Blacks concerned over Smith concussions

AUCKLAND (Reuters) - Damian McKenzie has been brought into the All Blacks squad for the British and Irish test series after fullback Ben Smith was forced off with concussion in the first match on Saturday.

Rugby Union - British and Irish Lions vs Maori All Blacks - Rotorua, New Zealand - June 17, 2017 - British and Irish Lions player Ben Te’o is tackled by Maori All Blacks player Damian McKenzie. REUTERS/Stringer

Smith left the field in the first half of the 30-15 victory after making some uncharacteristic errors under the high ball.

He failed a concussion check.

It is Smith’s third concussion this season and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said the vice captain’s run of head injuries was a concern.

“Benda (Smith) failed the concussion tests so he is undergoing protocols and Damian McKenzie will come in for him,” Hansen told reporters on Sunday.

”There’s something going on there that is not quite right, so we need to find out what it is.

”Like any concussion, he’s got to go through the protocols and until he passes them he’s not going to play.

“He still has to (undergo) testing. It’s not something we will rush into. We will give him a few days and let him go through it.”

Midfield back Ryan Crotty also injured his hamstring in the first half on Saturday and could be out for anything from two to four weeks, Hansen said.

Crotty’s Canterbury Crusaders team mate Jack Goodhue, who was one of five additional players named with the All Blacks squad as injury cover for a rib injury to Crotty, would remain with the team.

Flanker Matt Todd, another of the cover players, was released after he sustained a calf injury during training.

Hansen released fullback Jordie Barrett, inside centre Ngani Laumape, winger Julian Savea and flanker Vaea Fifita to play for the Wellington Hurricanes for their match against the Lions on Tuesday

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Ian Ransom

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