Injured New Zealand vice captain Tim Brown's hopes of playing at the World Cup finals have been boosted after the surgeon who operated on his injured shoulder described the procedure as a success.
The 29-year-old suffered a fractured right shoulder during the All White's 2-1 friendly defeat to Australia in Melbourne on Monday. Brown did not join the rest of the squad as they embarked on a 40-hour trip to their pre-World Cup training base in Austria, instead flying to Auckland to undergo surgery and try to keep his World Cup dream alive.
Surgeon Stu Walsh said: "It is still too early to comment on his chances of being available for the World Cup at this stage."
He added: "That will depend on how quickly he heals and how well he progresses through rehabilitation. The usual recovery time for this type of injury is three to six weeks, depending on the individual, and it can occasionally be much longer.
"However, Tim is a strong and fit athlete, who is very motivated and looks after himself well, which will benefit his recovery.
"We are therefore optimistic about the prognosis."
The rest of the New Zealand arrived at their Austrian training base in St Lambrecht on Thursday after their long-haul travel.
The All Whites, who will play at the World Cup finals for just the second time, went straight into a training session ahead of their game against world number 15 Serbia on Saturday.
Coach Ricki Herbert said: "Psychologically we're really in that World Cup mode now.
"We've got teams like England and Japan preparing [in Austria] so there's a real sense that we're back on the world stage again."