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All Blacks Call for Back Up
Gear and Donald called it to cover injury crisis
Posted Oct 12, 2011 by Chris White
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In light of their ever increasing injury problems, New Zealand have called up winger Hosea Gear and fly-half Stephen Donald as replacements for Mils Muliaina and Colin Slade, who will miss the remainder of the tournament after picking up injuries in the 33-10 quarter final win over Argentina.
Muliaina was forced off at half time in his 100th appearance for the All Blacks with a fractured shoulder, while Slade suffered a partial tear to his left adductor groin muscle, similar to the injury that brought a premature end to Dan Carter’s tournament just a week before.
Slade came into the New Zealand starting XV for the quarter final in place of Carter, but he was forced off after just half an hour with the injury, with Piri Weepu slotting in at fly-half, forcing the All Blacks to bring on Aaron Cruden who is set to start the semi final against Australia, while Donald, who last appeared for New Zealand as a replacement against Scotland in 2010 is likely to be on the bench.
The 27-year old joined Aviva Premiership side Bath after becoming frustrated with his lack of opportunities in the national team and his omission from the original World Cup squad. Gear on the other hand, was a surprise omission from the squad, with coach Graham Henry saying he came “very close” to making the final group.
The injury suffered by Muliaina brings his international career to an end, having become only the second player to win 100 caps for New Zealand, after current skipper Richie McCaw, who will make his 102nd appearance against Australia.
Muliaina made the announcement in a teary interview after the severity of the injury was determined, saying, “from today onwards, I will be a former All Black. Last night I was on top of the world but it is like a rollercoaster. But I’ve enjoyed my time and met some amazing people.”