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Coles starts for Hurricanes against the Force

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Hurricanes captain Dane Coles will make his much anticipated return to the side this weekend when the Wellington Super Rugby franchise hosts the Western Force in Palmerston North on Friday.

Coles has been named to start at hooker after missing the opening three weeks of the season due to minor hamstring and calf strains.

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd has made four changes to the side that started last week’s 23-19 win over the Blues at Eden Park with wing Nehe Milner-Skudder, blindside Brad Shields, prop Reggie Goodes, and hooker Leni Apisai all ruled out due to injury.

Milner-Skudder has unfortunately been ruled out for the Super Rugby season after scans revealed he will need surgery on the shoulder he dislocated at Eden Park. He is replaced on the right wing by Cory Jane.

There are two changes in the front row where Coles replaces Apisai in the No 2 jersey and Chris Eves takes over at loose head from Goodes. Apisai and Goodes have both been rested after coming off the field for concussion testing during the Hurricanes last match.

Vaea Fifita takes over at blindside from Shields, who will miss the Force match due to a lacerated thumb.

Boyd said Milner-Skudder’s injury was unfortunate, but Coles’ return was a timely boost ahead of what shaped as a tough match at Central Energy Trust Stadium.

“Losing Nehe is a blow and obviously disappointing for him, but we’re really lucky in that we have a lot of depth in the outside backs and when you can bring a 53-test All Black like Cory Jane into the team you aren’t going too bad.

“We’ve been a little unlucky with our hookers so far this season with injuries, so it’s great to have Colesy back on the park. He’s our leader, he’s a guy who the team looks to for direction and he’s itching to play.”

The Hurricanes squad includes two current Manawatu Turbos players in Eves and reserve loose forward Callum Gibbins as well as Palmerston North Boys High School old boy Ngani Laumape at second five-eighth.

The reserves bench features Auckland lock Michael Fatialofa, who will make his Super Rugby debut should he take the field, and the return of prop Ben May, who missed the start of the season due to injury. Outside back Jason Woodward also comes back into the squad to take Jane’s place in the reserves.

Nehe Milner-Skudder (shoulder), Brad Shields (lacerated thumb), Leni Apisai (concussion), Matt Proctor (knee), Reggie Goodes (concussion) wer unavailable for selection due to injury.

Hurricanes

15 James Marshall , 14 Cory Jane , 13 Vince Aso , 12 Ngani Laumape , 11 Julian Savea , 10 Beauden Barrett , 9 TJ Perenara , 8 Victor Vito , 7 Ardie Savea , 6 Vaea Fifita , 5 Mark Abbott , 4 Blade Thomson , 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen , 2 Dane Coles (c) , 1 Chris Eves

Replacements: Ricky Riccitelli, Loni Uhila, Ben May, Michael Fatialofa, Callum Gibbins, Jamison Gibson-Park, Willis Halaholo, Jason Woodward.

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