WELLINGTON – Ryan Crotty's impressive return to rugby at the weekend will have given Steve Hansen plenty of reasons to be cheerful as the All Blacks assemble in Hamilton on Monday to begin the final stages of their preparation for the World Cup.
Crotty had not played for two months after breaking his thumb in the Super Rugby semi-final but returned for Canterbury in New Zealand's provincial championship on Saturday.
The midfield back scored two tries and set up another in his 40 minutes at Southland. Perhaps more importantly, though, he came through the match unscathed.
"He made a difference," Canterbury coach Joe Maddock told the New Zealand Herald about Crotty's performance. "From the All Blacks point of view they'll be happy he got through 40 minutes."
Crotty could make his international return on Sept. 7 against Tonga in both sides' final warmup match before the World Cup, with Hansen keen on fielding as strong a side as possible.