All Blacks wing Waisake Naholo, on the comeback trail from a broken leg, is again under an injury cloud and in doubt for their final Pool C match against Tonga on Friday.
The try-scoring specialist is in need of game time after being sidelined for three months and the All Blacks will wait until the last minute before naming their team on Wednesday to decide if he will be fit enough to play.
Naholo missed the All Blacks first two games as he completed his recovery from a leg fracture.
He then exploded on to the World Cup stage with a sensational try with his first touch of the ball in the third game against Georgia which the All Blacks won 43-10 to confirm their quarter-final berth.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had tipped Naholo to be one of his biggest attacking weapons in the tournament but he slipped off the pace early in the match and appeared to be limping when he left the pitch at the 50-minute mark.
Hansen immediately dismissed the walk as a change to Naholo’s gait after suffering a fractured fibula in his maiden Test against Argentina in July.
He was counted out of World Cup contention then, before making a whirlwind recovery following treatment using a traditional healing method in his native Fiji.
Assistant coach Ian Foster confirmed on Monday that Naholo had suffered bruising to the previously injured leg and could not take a full part in training.
“We were pretty precautionary today and we’ll assess him Wednesday morning and make our decision then,” Foster said when pressed on whether Naholo would line up against Tonga.
The 24-year-old Highlanders wing was the top try scorer in Super rugby this year but was not his usual sharp self when he made his first World Cup appearance against Georgia.
Centre Sonny Bill Williams and prop Charlie Faumuina did not train on Monday with both suffering from minor injuries and Foster expected them to be considered for the Tonga match.
The only All Black not to appear so far in the tournament, loose forward Liam Messam, was said by Foster to be over his calf strain and would be available for the Tonga game.