Injury concerns mounting for All Blacks with Lions Tour on the horizon

A number of high profile players are struggling for fitness

Injury concerns mounting for All Blacks with Lions Tour on the horizon

New Zealand All Blacks Ian Foster and Steve Hansen. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

The New Zealand management team are facing an anxious couple of weeks as they prepare for this summer's much anticipated Lions series.

They are currently monitoring a number of front-line players as the tour approaches. Stalwarts such as Jerome Kaino, Ben Smith, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Dane Coles and captain Kieran Read are all struggling for fitness ahead of the tourists arrival.

The All Blacks are famed for their strength and depth and have moved on almost seamlessly after a host of stars retired from international rugby when they successfully retained the World Cup trophy in 2015.

New Zealand's Kieran Read dejected in Chicago. Image: ©INPHO/Photosport/Andrew Cornaga

Legendary captain Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu were among a host of players to either retire or move abroad. 

Head Coach Steve Hansen has replaced them effortlessly as the new New Zealand conveyor belt churned out ready made replacements in Sam Cane, Beauden Barrett and Liam Squire to name but a few.

However, the current spate of injuries means the reigning world champions will be stretched to the limit when Warren Gatland's men arrive in June. 

On top of this, there is a worry that the home side will be under-cooked when the test series begins. The New Zealand Super Rugby franchises aren't facing much competition from the other sides in the tournamnet.

They are currently unbeaten against Australian competition - winning all 15 matches in trans-Tasman duels thus far this season.

Furthermore, the All Blacks will likely only have one warm-up match before the test series - with Samoa being muted as possible opponents.

The tour kicks-off on June 3rd when the Lions face a Provincial Barbarians selection.