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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

All-Blacks Skipper Begins His Comeback

BRISTOL, England -- All Blacks skipper Sean Fitzpatrick could be back to face England at Twickenham on Dec. 6 if he suffers no adverse reaction to his comeback appearance against the English Rugby Partnership XV on Tuesday.


Fitzpatrick, sidelined for the entire tour with a knee injury, played the final 21 minutes of New Zealand's hard-fought 18-11 win but coach John Hart is unlikely to rush him back into the starting line-up against Wales this weekend.


"It was nice to see the skipper back," said Hart. "He was pleased with the way it went but it's too early to talk about the tests."


Hart conceded his midweek team had been pushed all the way by a fired-up home selection.


"I thought they played exceptionally well and could have won. It was a good lesson for some of our guys. Our composure held up when we were under pressure and I thought we did well to win in the end."


ERP XV coach Richard Hill is already looking ahead to next Tuesday's England A game at Leicester.


"The feeling in the dressing-room afterwards is that they can't wait until next Tuesday. English sides are starting to build up some belief," he said.


Fitzpatrick was named in the reserves Wednesday while center Walter Little was recalled to the side to meet Wales at Wembley on Saturday in the one change to the team that beat England 25-8 last weekend.


Little, a veteran of 44 tests who has been troubled by a knee injury this year, replaces Alaama Ieremia who was injured in the England game.


No. 8 Zinzan Brooke, forced to leave the field in the second half in the first test against England, has been passed fit.