All Black Sam Cane suffered a broken neck in this weekend’s test win against the Springboks in Pretoria and will have to remain in South Africa.
The All Blacks flanker has had an operation to repair the fracture in his neck.
He will not be able to fly back to New Zealand with the rest of the team and will stay in South Africa for a week.
All Blacks doctor Tony Page said Cane had a small fracture in a vertebrae on the lower right side of the neck but hasn’t suffered from any nerve damage, something that could have caused long term problems.
Page will remain in Pretoria with Cane.
The Chiefs star is expected to be out of rugby for several months, meaning the All Blacks will need a replacement for their looming tour of Japan and Europe.
“We have every confidence he will do well with the operation and like any fracture it will probably take about three months for the bone to get strong and we’ll take it step by step,” Page said.
“The operation is really just to keep everything in the right place so the bone can heal on its own accord. Many sportsmen have had this injury as have people in other walks of life and they usually make a good recovery.
“Sam is in good spirits. He was obviously sore in the middle of the night, as you are after a fracture, but he is being well looked after and he’s getting lots of support, lots of texts and phone calls.”
The All Blacks won the dramatic test, coming back from being down 30-13, to win 32-30.
Cane played well at the start of the test, but left the game in the 35th minute after going down and didn’t look in a good state when he walked off the field.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was disappointed to see one of his senior players suffer such an injury but was happy to hear it wasn’t as serious as it could have been.
“It’s obviously really disappointing for Sammy and his family but the pleasing news is he’s been given great medical care from the time of the injury and best of all he’s going to be able to get a full recovery and play again,” Hansen said.
“So once you remove I suppose the drama of it being a neck injury, you’ve just got to look at it and treat it like any fracture. The good news is he will play again.”
Hansen said they would now look at how they covered Cane’s absence and whether they would need three flankers for the tour that sees them play Japan, England, Ireland and Italy.
“There are a few things we need to sort out next week,” Hansen said, adding he was confident they had the necessary cover.
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