8 Nov 2010

Front row problems for All Blacks

12:47 pm on 8 November 2010

The All Blacks front row stocks have been dealt two potentially crippling blows ahead of this weekend's clash with Scotland in Edinburgh with hooker Keven Mealamu cited for headbutting and prop Ben Franks returning to New Zealand with a back injury.

Mealamu was cited for an incident that left England captain Lewis Moody writhing on the ground and his team-mates furious but the All Blacks coach Graham Henry believes the headbutt was purely accidental.

Meanwhile Henry confirmed the Wellington prop Neemia Tialata has been handed an All Blacks recall at the expense of the injured Franks after the Crusader's prop suffered a bulged disc in his back.

No date has been set for Mealamu's hearing but the All Blacks will be sweating on the result with their hooker stocks looking thin with Andrew Hore having not played rugby since May and Hika Elliot inexperienced at test level.