WELLINGTON, New Zealand - New Zealand prop Owen Franks has been ruled out for the rest of the year with Achilles problems, but three other injured All Blacks have been cleared to face Argentina in New Plymouth on Saturday.
Sam Cane and Ryan Crotty, who were concussed in the second Rugby Championship Test against Australia, and prop Wyatt Crockett, who suffered a head knock in the first Australia Test, were all available, coach Steve Hansen said Monday.
Hansen, however, was vague about the likely line-up on Saturday as he weighed up the need to establish combinations against a need to develop depth.
"It's a fine line," he said, while confirming Aucklander Blake Gibson had been called into the squad with third-ranked openside flanker Matt Todd sidelined by a broken hand.
"Whatever we do it will cause some conversations so that will be good for the game. The expectation will be that we will field a very good side and we'll go from there. It doesn't matter who plays, the expectation is we will do well."
Franks, who has been troubled for several weeks by an Achilles tendon injury, will undergo surgery on Friday and miss the remainder of the Rugby Championship and the northern hemisphere tour at the end of the year.
"It's better to get it right and let him have a full recovery and a pre-season and get back for the Crusaders," Hansen said, referring to his Super Rugby team.
Waisake Naholo, whose only appearance for the All Blacks so far this year was in the second Test against the British and Irish Lions, suffered a head knock in a club match last weekend and would also not be considered for the Argentina clash, Hansen said.