More disruptions for All Blacks as Sam Whitelock ruled out

The All Blacks are facing another week of disruptions, with lock Sam Whitelock out of the second Test against Ireland with concussion and back-up second-rower Tupou Vaa’i out with Covid.

Sam Whitlock's absence will force a re-think for the All Blacks in Dunedin.

It means there has been a call-up for Patrick Tuipulotu, who has recently returned from a Japan sabbatical.

The New Zealand Rugby board granted head coach Ian Foster permission to include Tuipulotu in the squad as the Blues player, who trained with the All Blacks last week, has yet to represent Auckland on his return.

The usual convention is for a player to represent their province in the NPC to be eligible for New Zealand.

Highlanders lock Josh Dickson and loose forward Shannon Frizell will train with the squad ahead of Saturday’s Test in Dunedin, but will not be eligible for inclusion for the Test team.

In another twist, Dickson, who represented the New Zealand Māori against Ireland in their victory in Hamilton last week, is training with his phone on as his wife is expecting their child.

It’s understood Whitelock’s concussion was of the delayed sort and self-reported to the All Blacks medical team after the 42-19 victory over the Irish at Eden Park.

It may mean a significant re-think for the coaches after Scott Barrett, the All Blacks' third lock after Whitelock and Brodie Retallick, made such a good fist of blindside flanker in the first Test.

Foster and company must now decide whether to play Barrett alongside Retallick in the second row and select Dalton Papalii or Akira Ioane on the side of the scrum, or leave him in the No.6 jersey. The former option is most likely.

The disruptions come after Crusaders backs David Havili, Jack Goodhue and Will Jordan were ruled out of the first Test due to Covid, along with coaches Foster, John Plumtree, Scott McLeod and Greg Feek. Havili, Goodhue and Jordan have returned to the squad, but Jordan is unlikely to be available due to his later diagnosis.

Despite those absences, which were planned for by the All Blacks, New Zealand weathered a first-quarter storm from the Irish to effectively have the first Test won at halftime via their 28-5 lead.

Another win under the roof in Dunedin will seal the series ahead of the third Test in Wellington a week on Saturday.

More to come.