The injury suffered by Anton Oliver in a Super 12 game on Saturday is not as bad as first feared, which will be good news for New Zealand coach Graham Henry.
Oliver was forced from the field in the 30th minute of his side’s 27-13 loss to the Crusaders and the hooker feared he had ruptured his Achilles tendon again, which would have ruled him out of rugby for up to six months.
However, the former All Blacks skipper, who is favoured to wear the number two jersey against the British & Irish Lions, revealed he had severely strained his calf muscle, an injury which is likely to take about six weeks to heal.
"I thought it was my Achilles," Oliver told The Sunday Star-Times.
"It sounded and felt exactly like it did when I snapped it. It went all numb and I couldn’t move my foot.
"I felt like I have dived straight into a time machine but because I have been through this whole experience before I had a strange feeling of resignation and said ‘oh well’.
"So it was a sense of relief when I realised it was my calf. I walked up the tunnel with Norm Maxwell [injured All Blacks and Crusaders lock] with a smile on my face because it was relatively good news.
"A ruptured Achilles is six months out so this is the best prognosis. I will just have to let it settle down and see how bad it is."
Oliver was sidelined for more than a year in 2002 after rupturing his Achilles but, after a difficult season with the Highlanders last year and a torrid time in the National Provincial Championship with Otago, the 29-year-old has been in inspirational form during the Super 12, leading his side to six successive victories before last weekend’s loss to the New South Wales Waratahs.