Kiwi league squad sweats on injured Blair - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kiwi league squad sweats on injured Blair

By Steve Jancetic 04/05/2011 07:13:57 PM Comments (0)

New Zealand are sweating on the fitness of Adam Blair's left ankle as they try to maintain the momentum of last year's Four Nations triumph in Friday night's rugby league Test against Australia.

Blair rolled his ankle in boggy conditions at The Southport School on the Gold Coast on Wednesday, the Melbourne backrower limping noticeably as he left the team's training run to seek further medical assessment.

Kiwi medical officials will know more about Blair's availability for the Skilled Park encounter on Thursday.

A mishap to the side's most experienced forward is the last thing the visitors need, with Nathan Fien still not a definite starter with a hamstring complaint, also forcing him to quit training early.

Blair's experience is seen as vital against what looks an imposing Australian pack, with the absence of injured prop Roy Asotasi and the overlooked Frank Pritchard leaving the Kiwis a little light on experience.

"It's a very mild sprain. It's just a precaution, icing him up and putting some compression on it and just see how he goes in the next 24 hours," team doctor Simon Mayhew said.

"It's always hard to tell straight away but, looking at it now, there's every chance he'll play on Friday night.

"Nathan just pulled up himself and said his hammy was feeling a bit tight ... he's decided that was the end of training for him ... he didn't feel that he tweaked it. He just noticed it was a bit tight."

The possible unavailability of Blair will heap even more pressure on the likes of two-Test prop Sam McKendry, who was named to start the game alongside Sam Rapira in a youthful front row.

It will pit him head-to-head with Penrith teammate Petero Civoniceva, who has refused to take any credit despite playing an instrumental role in McKendry's development into a Test player.

"For a young guy, he was on the fringe. He could have stayed there, but he had one whole off-season where he trained every day, he dropped ten kilos, it was unbelievable," Civoniceva said.

"A lot of credit has to go to himself and the initiative that he showed to get to this level.

"The challenge for him, as I've said to him, is now staying here."

That theme of maintaining a level of performance is something the Kiwi team has taken on board as they aim to build on the momentum of the Four Nations win - the third trophy from their past five tournaments.

"I guess over the last few years, the ledger has changed a little bit with us coming up trumps in a couple of those tournaments," centre Simon Mannering said.

"I don't know about a favourite tag - Australia's the big powerhouse in rugby league and I'm sure they still take that tag into Friday night.

"I think we've still got a little way to go, but you've got to start somewhere."

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