Should Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby hooker Hika Elliot appear a little under-done in his Battle For Life boxing debut in Auckland on December 15 he will have a good excuse.
Elliot, who will take on New South Wales State of Origin rugby league captain Paul Gallen, was one of two replacements called into the All Blacks squad in Britain yesterday. Canterbury utility back Tom Taylor was the other as the ABs squad deals with injuries and another judicial issue.
Elliot got the call before his New Zealand Maori team left the United Kingdom to cover for the rash of problems at hooker. Keven Mealamu is still recovering from his latest calf problem and remains an uncertain starter for Sunday's final test on tour against England.
The side's other senior hooker, Andrew Hore, is likely to face a judicial hearing this week after clobbering Wales' lock Bradley Davies in the opening minute of yesterday's 33-10 victory in Cardiff. Before leaving with the Maori team Elliot said he would still have time to fit in boxing training but there is unlikely to be the same amount of time with the ABs.
Taylor's inclusion is more of a mystery. However, it suggests injury problems for all three first five eighths are more serious than first thought.
Daniel Carter has damaged his right calf-achilles tendon area and remains in coach Steve Hansen's estimate, a 50-50 chance for this week's Twickenham test.
Aaron Cruden was subbed after 67 minutes yesterday during his prominent role in the All Blacks victory.
Not long after the match Hansen said Cruden had cramped up so they decided to replace him with Barrett, who was playing with his ribs heavily strapped and protected after taking a wallop against Italy and being subbed in that game.