x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Sitiveni Sivivatu set to miss South Africa trip

The All Blacks winger's eye socket fractured, and his New Zealand team refuse to get complacent ahead of the Port Elizabeth Test.

WELLINGTON // Sitiveni Sivivatu, the New Zealand winger, is unlikely to travel with the squad to South Africa for their next Tri Nations match after he was diagnosed with a fractured eye socket following their 30-14 demolition of Australia on Saturday.

Sivivatu scored the All Blacks' third try in the Tri Nations encounter at Eden Park, which helped them retain the Bledisloe Cup and set down a marker for the World Cup, which starts on September 9 in New Zealand.

Graham Henry, the All Blacks coach, yesterday confirmed the injury would probably rule Sivivatu out of the Test in Port Elizabeth on August 20.

"He probably will miss South Africa but probably will be right for Brisbane [against Australia on August 27]," Henry told reporters in Auckland.

Henry said several players named in the Tri Nations squad who were coming back from injury, such as the full-back Israel Dagg, the utility back Isaia Toeava, the centre Richard Kahui and the prop Tony Woodcock, were likely to travel to South Africa.

While Tri Nations rules allow for 26 players to travel, Henry said he would look to take just 24, resting several key players and allowing those coming back from injury to play at Test match level before the World Cup squad was named.

Henry was still uncertain of his final squad make-up to travel to South Africa and then Australia for their final two matches in the Tri Nations, but he was feeling comfortable with the manner in which the team are building toward the World Cup.

Previous World Cups have shown the team who defend best and take their scoring opportunities tend to win the Webb Ellis Trophy and the All Blacks' clinical demolition of Australia showed evidence of both.

The New Zealand side were brutal in defence, with the blind-side flanker Jerome Kaino seemingly intent on making it his personal mission to knock Wallabies ball runners into next week. Dan Carter, the fly-half, and the centre Conrad Smith also typified the trust the team have in their defensive screen in drifting across field, allowing those outside the confidence to stay on players further out.

The All Blacks also seized their opportunities in Australian territory, with two of their tries coming from initial line breaks and interplay before they resorted to controlled possession.

Neither Henry, nor his captain Richie McCaw, however, were overconfident, with the coach warning of complacency while McCaw said each match they played was about building towards the World Cup.

"I think it was important for our team to put a bit of work in. Each of the weeks we have got a bit better so I'm happy with the performance we put together," McCaw said. "We can't get carried away with that and we have to find ways of improving.

"A lot of the game was good - but there were areas we didn't quite get right as well and we have to keep our feet on the ground."