Nonu and Kaino set to miss out

New Zealand centre Ma'a Nonu and back row star Jerome Kaino have all-but been ruled out of Saturday's clash with Australia in Auckland.

A final decision would be made on Wednesday but assistant coach Ian Foster said the injured pair were considered "highly unlikely" after having scans.

"They didn't do any training today," Foster said. "We put them in cotton wool, really. We'll know more tomorrow but the signs are looking that they won't be playing on Saturday."

The loss of Nonu to a shoulder injury will be offset to some extent by the return of his long-term partner in midfield, Conrad Smith.

He missed the 12-12 draw in Sydney which opened the four-nation Rugby Championship to be present for the birth of his son.

Either Ryan Crotty or Malakai Fekitoa would step in for Nonu at inside centre to partner Smith.

Kaino, who suffered an elbow injury in the Wallabies match, is expected to be replaced by either Liam Messam or Steven Luatua at blindside flanker.

Watch New Zealand take on Australia live on Sky Sports 4 on Saturday, with coverage from 8am.