All Blacks sweating over star's fitness ahead of Rugby World Cup quarter-finals

All Blacks sweating over star's fitness ahead of Rugby World Cup quarter-finals

New Zealand head coach Ian Foster is sweating over the fitness of star front-row Tyrel Lomax after he sustained another knee injury in their 73-0 victory over Uruguay in Lyon on Thursday.

Lomax returned to action in the All Blacks' win over Italy last week, after he was sidelined for a month due to a freak knee cut which needed 30 stitches in their 35-7 Rugby World Cup warm-up loss against the Springboks at Twickenham in August.

The All Blacks' matches against Italy and Uruguay were meant to get him back to full fitness for the quarter-finals, where New Zealand are likely to face Ireland.

Lomax came on as a second-half replacement against the Azzurri and played for 30 minutes in his side's 96-17 win but only lasted for nine minutes against Los Teros on Thursday before limping off due to a medial ligament injury.

The 27-year-old has cemented himself as the All Blacks' first-choice tighthead prop in 2023, and Foster conceded that losing Lomax's services would be a setback ahead of their quarter-final, which will take place in Paris on October 14.

After Lomax's early exit against Uruguay, his replacement, Fletcher Newell, was also replaced due to injury in the game's dying moments with Ofa Tu'ungafasi, who started the game at loosehead, coming onto play on the tighthead for the final minutes.

"Fletcher was largely precautionary on his knee, but Tyrel is a bit more serious," Foster said after the match. "We don't know how bad it is. It looks like a medial, but doesn't look too bad. He's got a bucketload of ice on his knee at the moment, and we'll look at that over the next 48 hours."

When asked if Lomax was a prospect to play in the quarter-final, Foster said: "Medial ligaments can be a small strain or a large strain.

"We won't know for another 24 hours, but he was moving OK afterwards. We'll look at him over the weekend, but fortunately, we've got a couple of extra days [until the quarter-final], which could be meaningful for us."

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