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Broken thumb leaves All Blacks’ Squire a doubt for Lions opener

The All Blacks have not lost a series against the Lions since 1971. “That will be a bit of a concern for them”, Gatland said.

Read was also ruled out for about six-weeks, putting him in line to return two weeks before the opening Lions test.

Hansen laughed off Gatland’s pre-tour comments. “I don’t find playing mind games with your players is a great idea, especially our guys as they are way too smart to fall for that stuff“.

The All Blacks captain has had surgery and is back in New Zealand recovering.

The 26-year-old Squire would have been an nearly certainty for the All Blacks squad and with first-choice test regulars Read and Kaino both also a concern, likely to have started at blindside flanker or number eight had the pair not recovered in time.

The All Blacks have already suffered injury blows in the build up to the series, particularly in the flanker position as Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino are both struggling with respective thumb and knee problems.

“With Kieran Read out, Liam was probably next cab off the rank (for the All Blacks)”.

“You always have concerns but at the same time you can’t control that”, Hansen told Fairfax Media yesterday. You can’t force that. “You have to deal with each situation as it comes along but we don’t name the team until June 8 so there’s no point panicking”.

Both Kaino and Read would be eligible to face the Lions for their Super Rugby sides – the Auckland Blues and Canterbury Crusaders, respectively – before the test squad is named.

“We’ve been working on that for a long time”.

“You’ve got the guys that have been there before like Dixon, Luatua”.

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