TANA Umaga has played down the supposed All Blacks injury crisis, stressing it is important the team is ready for the "tough" games.
Mils Muliaina, Richie McCaw, and Israel Dagg have all been ruled out of the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup match against Japan in Hamilton tonight.
But the former All Blacks captain, capped 79 times for his country, has told Newstalk ZB he is "not at all" worried about the players being withdrawn from the team.
"I think if it was the final or the semi-final [the coaches] would put them out there. But since we have some time up our sleeves, they're making the right decisions.
"We've got a big game next week - no disrespect to Japan - but I don't think Japan have put their best side out, so there's no reason we shouldn't do the same."
Umaga said it was important to target the tough games and was wary of keeping an eye on next week's opponents.
"I think moving into the French game, we all know our history with France in World Cups. We're really going to give everything we've got for that game."
He is pleased to see Colin Slade getting a hit out. The first five-eighth will step into the place of the injured Dan Carter at Waikato Stadium.
Mils Muliaina's hamstring injury has robbed him of the opportunity to stake a claim for selection ahead of the clash with Marc Lievremont's side next Saturday. When it came to discussing the fullback option for the All Blacks, Umaga admitted he is grateful he's not in the selectors' shoes at the moment.
"For me, obviously Dagg is playing the best at the moment. But Muliaina would be my first choice in that he's got the experience, he's played there before. He's someone that you can rely on in those tough situations. I'm just glad I'm not having to make those decisions."
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