Reuters - Mon, 24 May 07:39:00 2010
A hip injury has ruled New Zealand utility back Isaia Toeava out of the All Blacks' Tri-Nations campaign.
The 26-test Auckland Blues player will have surgery this week to remove a bone spur from his hip that hampered him during the Super rugby season.
"It is jamming up against a nerve and it's pretty painful," Toeava said.
"I've had cortisone, but the pain keeps coming back. They say it will take about four to six months to heal, and while it's pretty disappointing, it's best I get it fixed now."
Toeava's absence leaves New Zealand coach Graham Henry with a selection dilemma at midfield for June tests against Ireland and Wales given centre Ma'a Nonu is likely to be out for at least six weeks with a knee injury.
The All Blacks have already lost winger Sitiveni Sivivatu and flyhalf Mike Delaney to shoulder surgeries for the season and hooker Andrew Hore is also a doubt for the Tri-Nations after dislocating his shoulder.
Fullback Mils Muliaina may also miss the June tests after breaking his thumb during the Super season. Lock Ali Williams is no certainty to return this year after undergoing a third round of surgery on a troublesome Achilles injury.