Leicester Fainga’anuku leaves All Blacks touring squad

Publish Date
Tuesday, 25 October 2022, 9:14AM

All Blacks winger Leicester Fainga’anuku has been forced to leave Japan just days after arriving with the squad for what the team is describing as family reasons.

Assistant coach Scott McLeod said Fainga’anuku had decided to return home of his own accord and indicated he will eventually be replaced in the squad for the remainder of the side’s end of year tour.

“Leicester has returned home. No disruption. We’re very sad for his circumstances, for family reasons and we respect what he wants to do,” McLeod told NZME on Monday.

“We’ve got a large group here that are very excited about this opportunity [the tour] so we’ll just move on and, when a decision is made for the replacement player, we’ll welcome him and get him moving as well.”

Veteran lock Brodie Retallick was philosophical about the loss of a seventh player from the squad in a matter of days.

“We’ve lost more players in the space of 24 hours than you do in a series of test matches but that’s life,” Retallick told NZME.

“The boys that have come in for them are now on the ground here and we had our first training session today. So we’ll lose a little bit of experience with the people not here but the boys that are here are just as eager and ready for an opportunity.”

Fainga’anuku is due to arrive back in New Zealand on Monday night.

The team has just arrived in Japan, already six-men down from the squad they expected to take there. On Saturday, all three Barrett brothers - Beauden, Jordie and Scott – missed the flight to Japan due to the death of their grandmother, while injuries to Sam Whitelock, Will Jordan and Folau Fakatava mean they will also not immediately travel.

Four players have already been drafted into the squad from the All Blacks XV team: halfback Brad Weber, backline utility Damian McKenzie, lock Patrick Tuipulotu and hooker Asafo Aumua.

The northern tour begins with a test against Japan in Tokyo on October 29.

The All Blacks then play weekly tests in November against Wales, Scotland and the headline England fixture to finish the year at Twickenham.

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission

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