RLWC: Injury concerns for Kiwis

Vodafone Warriors wing Manu Vatuvei was in outstanding form in the first half but was one of three players with injury concerns after the Kiwis' 56-10 trouncing of Papua New Guinea at the Rugby League World Cup in Leeds today. Photo: Photosport


With the Kiwis aiming so much of their attack at the right edge - all but two of the Kiwis' 10 tries were scored in that vicinity - Vatuvei (27) had few opportunities in try-scoring range but still carved off 107 metres from just seven runs.


However, he appeared to hobble after one of his runs and ended up sitting the second half out with a leg injury.


Clubmate Thomas Leuluai's frustrations continued. He played every single minute of the Vodafone Warriors' 24 NRL games this season but, until today, he had been out of circulation at the Rugby League World Cup after picking up a groin injury.


He was cleared to make his comeback against the Kumuls, confirmed as a late change on the bench and set up to come on at halftime replacing fellow Vodafone Warrior Shaun Johmson at halfback.


His return proved futile, though, as he lasted only five minutes before surrendering to more issues with his groin complaint. The magnitude of his frustration was captured when television coverage flashed up vision of him in the dressingroom soon after, an image which suggested Leuluai knew his involvement in the rest of the campaign may well be over.


A third injury concern emerged late in the game. As the Kiwis defended their line fullback Josh Hoffman could be seen reeling out of a tackle in some discomfort. It was later confirmed he had a shoulder problem although coach Stephen Kearney said he was hopeful Hoffman as well as Vatuvei would be fit to play in the Kiwis' quarter-final against either Scotland or Italy at Headingley next Saturday (NZT).