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All Blacks wait on fitness of Ellison and Smith

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James Mortimer     15 Nov 2012     Getty Images

Both players injuries were initially thought to be minor, but further developments have not helped the two backs.

Ellison suffered during the trip from Edinburgh, with what appeared to be an innocent limp turning out to be ligament damage.

Smith, sporting an impressive shiner, has actually suffered a fractured cheek bone.

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said that while there was a small chance Smith may play further part in the tour, the team would seek advice on the best course of action.

Doctor Deb Robinson is monitoring the players, who both were checked while the team enjoyed their first formal training session in Rome.

"We've had scans on both of them," Foster said.

"Tamati has got a sore toe. There's ligament damage on the side of his toe. It's a little bit unusual. We're going to give ourselves a couple of days now we know what it is to see if it settles down. Ben Smith has a small fracture in his cheek. We're not sure at this stage whether he is going to play again on this tour.”

"Ben has the type of injury it is possible to play with but we want to make sure we get people to give us the right opinion on it."

However Smith did confirm that both players at the minimum would miss this weekend’s match against Italy, all but confirming that the All Blacks most capped midfield of Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu will be reunited.

Their presence could ensure that Aaron Cruden starts his first test of the tour, but the absence of Ellison and Smith could mean that the All Blacks incumbent first five-eighth Dan Carter may need to provide cover for the midfield.

"If you look at the mix it's probably going to be Dessie (Carter) who covers midfield," Foster said.