WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Flanker Sam Cane is up and walking around after having surgery to repair a broken bone in his neck and is expected to make a full recovery, the All Blacks said on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old suffered the injury during the All Blacks' 32-30 victory over South Africa in Pretoria on Saturday.
All Blacks doctor Tony Page said on Sunday Cane would probably be out of action for at least three months, while coach Steve Hansen said they would not rush his return to the field.
"Sam Cane is up and about after his successful operation in South Africa," the All Blacks said on their Twitter account, also posting a photo of Cane standing up and wearing a neck brace.
"Sam would like to thank everyone for all the support he has received from around the world, he is set to make a full recovery."
Hansen received further good news on Wednesday with a trio of injured frontrowers expected to return to the field this week, Fairfax Media reported.
Hooker Dane Coles has not played since rupturing knee ligaments against France on last year's end-of-season tour, while tighthead prop Nepo Laulala was sidelined after breaking his arm during Super Rugby, an injury that required surgery.
Coles is expected to make a cameo appearance for Wellington against Taranaki in New Zealand's provincial championship on Friday, while Laulala is to return for Counties Manukau against Canterbury the following day.
Laulala is likely to face fellow All Blacks prop Joe Moody, who broke his thumb against Australia on Aug. 25, in the clash in Christchurch on Saturday.
If all three come through their games unscathed they are expected to be included in Hansen's squad for an end-of-season tour that features tests against Australia, Japan, England, Ireland and Italy.
The All Blacks face Australia in the third Bledisloe Cup match in Yokohama on Oct. 27 before taking on 2019 Rugby World Cup hosts Japan in Tokyo on Nov. 3.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford)