SYDNEY – The All Blacks will be without both first-choice centres for next week's second Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia in Auckland, coach Steve Hansen said Sunday.
He confirmed Ryan Crotty would miss the match after being knocked out in Saturday's 38-13 first Test win in Sydney, while Sonny Bill Williams was already out injured.
Hansen said he would be forced to check on the fitness of Wellington Hurricanes' Vince Aso, who has been out since May after damaging wrist ligaments during the Super Rugby season.
"The guy we're pretty keen on is Aso, we're trying to get an update on his about how his wrist is," he told reporters.
Hansen said wing Rieko Ioane was sidelined after picking up a hamstring tear in Sydney.
The injuries may give Australia a glimmer of hope for next week's must-win second Test at Eden Park, a venue where they have not tasted victory since 1986.
Another loss would see New Zealand retain the Bledisloe Cup for the 16th-straight year.
Hansen said he expected a better performance from the Wallabies in Auckland after they started strongly in Sydney but only to squander possession and succumb to a five-try blitz in the second half.
He did not believe Australia's loss of fullback Israel Folau to an ankle injury was a fatal blow to their chances, saying Michael Cheika's men would be desperate for a win.
"We'd be silly to think they haven't got another player who's going to step in and wear the jersey with pride and urgency," Hansen said.
"Their backs are against the wall. They're going to improve. Teams that get beaten learn better than those that win and are hungrier than those that win."
Meanwhile, Wallabies star Israel Folau was ruled out of the second Bledisloe Cup Test with an ankle injury, in a further blow to Australia after their big loss to New Zealand.
Fullback Folau limped off in the 65th minute in the first Test in Sydney on Saturday.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said the 29-year-old had a "small tear in a muscle right down low" but added that it was "just a lot of swelling" and not a long-term injury.
"We're hopeful he'll be back for the game in Brisbane against the Springboks," Cheika said.
"I think it's logical to bring in a winger like Naivalu as we have (Jack) Maddocks who can play winger and fullback as well as (Tom) Banks who is an out-and-out fullback."
Brumbies pair Folau Faingaa and Rory Arnold, and Rebels centre Billy Meakes will also travel to Auckland to help with the Wallabies' preparations.
The All Blacks have also been hit by injuries ahead of next week's clash at Eden Park in Auckland, with Ryan Crotty and Rieko Ioane both sidelined.
The Wallabies have not won at Eden Park since 1986. They are due to face South Africa in Brisbane on September 8.AFP