Kaino not back in black yet

The sight of Jerome Kaino galloping around at All Blacks training on Tuesday had one or two pulses racing, but the veteran loose forward remains on the national team outer for now.

Kaino's managed return for the All Blacks, following his heavily publicised personal issues that saw him return home early ahead of the Belisloe opener, remains on track to have the veteran loose forward back in full mode for the away Rugby Championship visits to Argentina and South Africa.

The 81-test loose forward did train fully with the All Blacks at the Blues' Alexandra Park headquarters on Tuesday, but assistant coach Ian Foster confirmed the 34-year-old would return, as planned, to Nick White's Auckland team for Friday's Mitre 10 Cup clash against Southland in Invercargill.

Kaino made his first Auckland appearance since 2010 in Saturday's 49-38 defeat to Taranaki on Eden Park and Foster said the national coaches wanted to see more of him in that arena before he returned to test footy.

"He came in yesterday. We've had ongoing conversations with him and it's a matter of bringing him back in," said Foster. "He's had one Mitre 10 Cup game, and we're keen for him to have another.

"He has been out of the game for a little while and he's got to show us he is in the right sort of condition to come back.

"But it's great having him back."

Kaino, a two-time World Cup winner, has had an untimely absence, with both Liam Squire and, last Saturday, Vaea Fifita producing standout displays in the No 6 jersey for the All Blacks.

But lock Sam Whitelock said it was always good to have a player of Kaino's experience back contributing in a test week.

"Loms has been around the whole time I've been involved, and he brings that harder edge to the environment. Whether it be walking through lineouts, or doing the physical stuff, it's good to have that older, experienced guy that demands we compete."

Fifita sat out Tuesday's training with a sore shoulder, but was expected to be available for selection following his sensational outing against the Pumas. Foster said it would be a tight call with a choice between two in-form players.

"They were both pretty special in what they did," he said. "They're both learning still, and there are areas in both their games where they've still got to get some greater clarity on the roles we need them to do.

"But it was great seeing them both go out on the park and express themselves with their athleticism."

Even before Fifita's injury emerged, the more rugged Squire was tipped to regain the No 6 jersey to face the Boks. That has now firmed even further.


Photo by: PHIL WALTER/GETTY IMAGES (Caption:Jerome Kaino trained with the All Blacks on Tuesday, but will be back with Auckland for the rest of the week).