After escaping South Africa with a narrow victory over the Springboks, certain rugby players are hoping to use the final round of the Mitre 10 Cup prior to the playoffs as an opportunity to catch the attention of Coach Steve Hansen.
Hansen has expressed that the All Blacks’ intention is to take more players for the game with Japan next month, although it hardly seems a case of the Kiwis having any sort of concern that Japan poses any sort of threat.
It seems more a case that Hansen and the others want to provide latitude to send some key All Blacks into preparations for the tests in Europe.
The list of available players has grown by at least three, with Dane Coles, Joe Moody and Nepo Laulala returning from injuries.
Coles has been missing for the better part of a year after he ruptured his ACL last November against France. Surgery May past and associated collateral calf issues have hindered Coles, but he appears poised to resume when Wellington plays Taranki Friday coming.
Moody is returning from a broken thumb, which seems an occupational hazard for rugby players, playing the Wallabies in late August, but Laulala needed two operations to repair an arm broken while playing Super Rugby in early March.
In other Kiwi football news, Waikato has good prospects at securing the Ranfurly Shield away, provided they can beat Otago next up.
The Mooloos have experienced a positive reversal of fortune after losing 10-consecutive spanning back to last season and the first three games of this year. They reeled off six consecutive under the leadership of Coach Jono Gibbes, who is moving to France to head up La Rochelle next month.
Otago will be no easy task for Waikato. The beat Auckland at Eden Park, and then came from behind to beat Bay of Plenty in Dunedin before being tipped by Tasman a few days later.