All Black Jerome Kaino faces a race against time, but remains hopeful he can play in a match he has circled for some time.
New Zealand’s first Test of the World Cup year is in two-and-a-half weeks when they face Samoa in Apia.
Kaino missed the past five games of the Blues’ Super Rugby season after suffering a compound dislocation of his left ring finger in early May while skippering the side against the Western Force.
The loose forward said mobility and strength were returning to the finger and a decision would be made a week before the Samoa match about his availability for selection.
“I think I’m touch and go for it,” he said.
Kaino said he was able to train, do weights, even catch a ball, but just not do contact work.
“It’s quite niggly,” he said.
“It’s only a finger. I wish I could get out there and play. It’s quite annoying.”
Kaino, 32, was born in American Samoa, arriving in New Zealand at a young age.
He said he had been thinking about the Test on July 8 since it was announced and it would a big occasion for him and his family if he was able to get on the field.
“I love the All Blacks. Samoa loves the All Blacks,” he said.
“To be able to go and play a Test over there with the All Blacks would be awesome. It would be huge.”
Despite his haul of 56 caps and being a World Cup winner, Kaino said making an All Blacks squad never lost that special feeling.
“It never gets old,” he said.
“You always get a shiver down your spine whenever you hear the All Blacks called out and you’re involved. It’s always special.”