Mauger headache for Blacks

Aaron Mauger’s participation in Saturday’s crunch Vodacom Tri-Nations match is in doubt.

He was named in the starting line-up at inside-centre on Tuesday but a groin strain sustained at practice on Wednesday morning continues to cast doubt over the 25 year-old’s availability for the Eden Park encounter.

The All Blacks medical staff will assess him at a practice session later today before making a decision.

“Sometimes it can just be a bit of scar tissue that has been torn but we have just got to wait and see,” coach Wayne Smith told the media.

“Running in a straight line down the corridor is a bit different to playing a game so, he will warm-up tonight and have a crack at training and we will have a better feel for it after that.”

Luke McAllister and Sam Tuitupou are poised to fill the position if Mauger fails to recover but Smith was tight-lipped about who the frontrunner was.

“Both Luke and Sam have been training there so we will make that decision once something a bit more concrete about Aaron is known,” he said.

Mauger’s withdrawal inadvertently places more pressure on young Isaia Toeava, who starts at outside centre. The 39-Test veteran was meant to play a guiding role to the 19 year-old but Smith said he had confidence in whoever would play at No 12.

“The idea initially was that we’d bring Isaia in with the experience of Aaron inside him but we trust these players and I think both options, Sammy and Luke, have a bit of experience now,” he said.

“Luke hasn’t been in a losing All Black team so we will make that decision when the facts are on the table.”