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All Black lock Romano travels home after death in family
Patrick Tuipulotu is now the only capped second row in New Zealand’s squad.

Sean Farrell reports from Chicago

NEW ZEALAND’S SECOND row options for Saturday’s meeting with Ireland in Chicago have been reduced as a death in the family bereavement has given Luke Romano cause to travel home.

“A bit of sad news around our team,” All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster began today’s press briefing, “for Luke Romano there’s been a family bereavment. He’s heading back home this afternoon.

“Our thoughts are with him and his family. Our main priority is making sure he gets back home now.”

The world champions had already been looking at a weakened second row as both Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock remained in New Zealand to recover from concussion and hamstring issues respectively.

New Zealand are hopeful the first choice duo with be back with the touring party in time for the second meeting with Ireland, but will not call upon a replacement for Romano this week.

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The loss of Romano leaves Steve Hansen with only one capped second row in his squad in the shape of the Blues’ Patrick Tuipulotu. He will be partnered by either Hurricanes’ Vaea Fifita or Crusaders’ Scott Barrett – brother to Beauden and Jordie, who are also part of the touring squad.

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