Injury cruels Kieran Foran’s Test comeback as Kiwis hold out Lions


Foran, who battled ankle, calf and hamstring issues this year,  will be sweating on avoiding surgery and giving himself every chance to start next season at the Bulldogs in top condition as he chases a new deal for 2021 and beyond.

“I’m really shattered for ‘Foz’, he’s an absolute champion of a fella, he’s been through a bit in his time and bounced back, and no doubt he’ll respond to this one,” Kiwis coach Michael Maguire said.

“We were all looking forward to seeing him play. Everyone realises what he has endured the last couple of years.

“We’ll rally around him and make sure we get him back. Potentially it’s [just] a dislocated shoulder. It’s a tough one.”

A shattered Kieran Foran leaves the field after only six minutes of the Test against Great Britain on Saturday.Credit:Getty

New Zealand skipper Benji Marshall added: “Seeing him emotional in the sheds, he’s done a lot of work to get back to this point, and it’s the most stable I’ve seen him, not only with his body but mentally as well.

“He was peaking for this game and I could see how much it meant to him.”

Johnson looms as the obvious replacement for Foran for next week’s second Test, but Maguire was also impressed with bench player Jahrome Hughes.

The early loss of Foran was a bitter blow for the Kiwis, whose hooker Brandon Smith was dumped from the team before the game for disciplinary reasons. While Maguire wouldn’t comment on Smith’s axing, he admitted the Melbourne Storm star would be considered for the second Test.

The Sun-Herald was told Smith fell ill during the week and failed to attend a sponsors’ function but did not inform Kiwis staff of his movements.

Maguire made a point of singling out Adam Blair for special praise after he played his 50th Test. His teammates performed an impromptu haka after the match.

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Great Britain tried hard late and thought they levelled the scores when Jermaine McGillvary dived over in the corner. But the winger spilled the ball as he leapt in the air.

What also didn’t help coach Wayne Bennett’s team was the fact they were reduced to just 12 men because Ryan Hall had to come from the field with a dislocated knee after all the replacements had been used.

There was also plenty of tension between the sides as fiery Englishman James Graham took matters into his own hands after being collected late in the back by Joe Tapine.

Graham ignored pleas from the referees to calm down and charged towards Tapine, who appeared to sneak a punch at his rival lock.

Kiwis fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and John Bateman almost locked horns a minute later.

“It was a tight game, there was nothing in it all afternoon, we should have had two tries in the last five minutes but didn’t get them,” Bennett said. “They got their nose in front.

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“The first half was a pretty dismal game of football. Completions were high but nothing was happening out there.”

No tries were scored in the opening half as both teams went to the sheds with the one penalty goal each.

New Zealand’s best chance came in the dying seconds when Joey Manu made a break down field, fired the ball back inside for Marshall before he regathered the ball and knocked on.

Replays, however, suggested Manu had the ball raked by Great Britain fullback Jonny Lomax, who was lucky to avoid being penalised.

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