All Black star to miss opening rounds of Rugby Champs
INJURY UPDATE: All Blacks and Chiefs star Anton Lienert-Brown has been ruled out of action for six months with a shoulder injury.
Lienert-Brown is set to undergo surgery this week after injuring his shoulder early in the Chiefs’ 25-0 Super Rugby Pacific defeat to the Blues in Hamilton on Saturday.
The 26-year-old midfielder left the field just seven minutes into the match after copping a heavy blow at a ruck by Blues flyhalf Sam Nock.
Lienert-Brown subsequently revealed via social media on Monday that he will go under the knife, a procedure that is set to sideline him until October.
“Shoulder is going to need a bit more work than I was hoping, going under the knife this week which will put me out for 6 months,” the 56-test international wrote.
“A bump in the road but the journey continues. I’ll be back and appreciate all the support”.
Lienert-Brown’s newly-injured shoulder is the same one that he partially dislocated during last November’s All Blacks test loss to Ireland in Dublin, forcing him to sit out the season-ending defeat to France in Paris the following week.
His current injury means he will miss the remainder of the Chiefs’ Super Rugby Pacific season, as well as the All Blacks’ three-test series against Ireland in July and the Rugby Championship campaign between August and September.
He is also likely to be absent for most of Waikato’s NPC season, although he could feature for the Mooloos at the backend of their campaign and may be available for New Zealand’s end-of-year tour in November.
Regardless, the absence of Lienert-Brown is significant for the Chiefs, who are now without one of their most experienced players and key leaders for the rest of the year after having already lost Brodie Retallick for six-to-eight weeks with a broken thumb.
Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan feared the worst for Lienert-Brown shortly after his side’s defeat to the Blues.
“Not great,” McMillan said of Lienert-Brown following their loss. “He’s putting on a brave face but initial reports are that it’s not looking good. His arm is in a sling.”
Chiefs and All Blacks captain Sam Cane, who overcome a serious injury himself last year, felt for Lienert-Brown after having watched his club and international teammate endure an injury-plagued campaign in 2021.
“He’s a massive part of our team and must be closing in on 100 games,” Cane said. “I’m not going to feel too sorry for him yet. I’ll cross my fingers and hope it’s not as bad as initially thought but my gut feel is he may be in a bit of strife.”