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All Blacks to cross fingers during clash

THE All Blacks will use tomorrow morning's World Cup clash with Namibia at London's Olympic Stadium as a training run, but coach Steve Hansen will still be sweating on his players coming through unscathed.

The defending champion has never played against Namibia, which Australia humbled 142-0 at the 2003 World Cup.

That doesn't mean Hansen isn't nervous about any of his stars picking up injuries, despite only naming three players - lock Sam Whitelock and wingers Julian Savea and Nehe Milner-Skudder - from the team that beat Argentina 26-16 to open its campaign.

Given the All Blacks have travelled with only three locks for the tournament, an injury to Whitelock or second-row partner Luke Romano would be a serious problem.

The same would apply for bullocking left winger Savea who is poised to play an important role for his team in the knockout stages.

Kieran Read and Richie McCaw have both been named on the reserves bench, with Read likely to come on at lock in case of injury.

"I don't want any injuries - that would be a good start, touch wood," Hansen said.

"We want to get out there and execute our game and rehearse against some opposition."

Namibia is the lowest-ranked country at this World Cup, its team made up of engineers, farmers, businessmen and a dentist.

Topics:  all blacks


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