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Elliot called up by New Zealand

New Zealand hooker Andrew Hore
Hore has established himself as NZ's first-choice hooker this season

Hawke's Bay hooker Hikawera Elliot has been called into the All Blacks squad for the team's tour to the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The 22-year-old replaces Andrew Hore, who is returning home to New Zealand after suffering a left high ankle sprain against Australia.

Elliot joined up with the squad as they made their way to Edinburgh ahead of Saturday's match against Scotland.

Kevin Mealamu replaced Hore in the ANZ Hong Kong Bledisloe Cup Test victory.

He is now in pole position to start New Zealand's four Tests against Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England but faces added competition from Elliot.

Hore was forced off after just five minutes of the All Blacks' 19-14 win.

"He has had an X-ray which has been reported as normal, but the injury is serious enough for him to be unable to play," said team doctor Deb Robinson.

It was a typical All Blacks/Wallabies Test match - hard as hell

All Blacks coach Graham Henry
Corey Flynn, whose last cap was four years ago, is the only other hooker in the tour party.

Despite his disappointment at Hore's injury, New Zealand coach Graham Henry hailed his side's second-half fightback.

"The guys won ugly," he said. "They took a while to get the pace of the game and their second wind in those conditions, but they got better as the game went on.

"They played much better in the second half than the first, but it was a typical All Black/Wallaby Test match - hard as hell - and our guys showed enough guts to get through it and win."

Captain Richie McCaw conceded New Zealand need to work on improving the slow starts that have seen them trail in both their last two Tests against Australia before recovering to win.

"That's definitely something we're going to be working on," he said.

"We talked about it this week but it took a while to get into the game. We knew where we wanted to attack but it was just a matter of setting it up to do that.

We gave them possession and territory through penalties. It hurts

Australia captain Stirling Mortlock
"The dominance up front we took a while to get into that, didn't quite get the edge there that we were after until the second half.

"But there was a lot of courage from the outset from the guys, when you're under the pump to still believe in what you're doing and turn things around because it was a pretty good team we were up against."

Australia coach Robbie Deans took solace from the way his side troubled the All Blacks.

"I believe we made progress tonight. We were possibly more deserving tonight but still not good enough."

Skipper Stirling Mortlock lamented his side's indiscipline.

"Discipline, from our perspective, let us down a number of times," he said.

"We gave them possession and territory through penalties. It hurts."

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see also
Australia 14-19 New Zealand
01 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Zinzan Brooke column
28 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Seven new faces in NZ tour squad
25 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
All Blacks magic: New Zealand rugby
21 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Boks pick home stars for GB tour
25 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Australia 24-28 New Zealand
13 Sep 08 |  Rugby Union

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