All Blacks suffer Bridge blow

All Blacks star George Bridge is reportedly set for a lengthy stint on the sidelines after a freak training injury ahead of the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland on Sunday.

Bridge played the full 88 minutes in the All Blacks’ 16-16 draw with the Wallabies in the first Bledisloe Cup Test in Wellington last weekend, setting up Aaron Cruden’s second-half try from a lineout.

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However, the All Blacks confirmed on Thursday that the 25-year-old wing suffered a serious pectoral injury while doing weights training in the gym. The injury could potentially rule him out for the next six months.

According to the New Zealand Herald, the Crusaders’ breakthrough star Will Jordan was set to be released from the All Blacks camp to play for provincial side Tasman in the Mitre 10 Cup this weekend, but has been retained in the wake of Bridge’s injury.

All Blacks coach Ian Foster may now be forced to shuffle his back three, with Beauden Barrett’s return to the starting lineup at fullback likely. Barrett’s younger brother, Jordie, could keep his place on the right wing, with Bridge’s injury paving the way for Caleb Clarke to get his first Test start on the left wing.

Clarke made his Test debut off the bench during last weekend’s draw and the 21-year-old Blues player looked far from nervous on the big stage, delivering several strong carries.

Losing Bridge is the latest blow to hit the All Blacks ahead of this Sunday’s Test, with experienced lock Sam Whitelock also set to miss the match after picking up a concussion in the first Test.

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