Injured prop a day by day proposition

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NZPA     18 Nov 2008     Getty Images

The senior front rower was moving more freely around the team hotel today before the team took a train south to Limerick for Wednesday's morning's (NZ time) tour match against Munster at Thomond Park.

Woodcock was forced from the field during the final quarter of the All Blacks' 22-3 loss to Ireland at Croke Park here last night after straining a muscle in his lower back.

"Woody's stiff and sore in the back but he's better than he was yesterday," said All Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen.

"He still has to be looked at day by day to see how he comes through."

Hansen would not be drawn on whether the 47-cap loosehead would be available to pack down against Wales at Millennium Stadium on Sunday morning (NZ time) though in an encouraging sign he was being managed by the team's medical staff and did not require a scan.

The North Harbour farmer looms as a key figure as the All Blacks seek their third Grand Slam, particularly following Greg Somerville's imminent move to England and the loss of hooker Andrew Hore to an ankle injury five minutes into the tour opener against Australia in Hong Kong.

Woodcock has been a fixture in the All Blacks front row for the major tests this season despite being plagued with a chronic foot injury.

Meanwhile, centre Conrad Smith tweaked his long-term groin problem when kicking the ball during the second half at Dublin, though his injury is not considered serious.

Like Woodcock, Smith was never in contention to face Munster as the All Blacks management take the opportunity to protect front line players for the test against Warren Gatland's Six Nations champions.

Hansen said the remainder of the 22-man squad who saw action against the Irish emerged unscathed other than the standard bumps and bruises.

"Everyone's pulled up really well," he said.

The team to play Wales is named on Thursday morning.