Wellington based Super Rugby franchise the Hurricanes have named a 25-man squad that will travel to Japan and kick off their Super Rugby title defence against the Sunwolves in Tokyo.
Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd has included all four of the Hurricanes 2016 All Blacks with captain and hooker Dane Coles, openside Ardie Savea, wing Julian Savea and star first five Beauden Barrett all on the plane to Japan.
Four uncapped Hurricanes have made the trip in utility back Jordie Barrett, loose forward Reed Prinsep, lock James Blackwell, and hooker James O’Reilly.
Barrett and Prinsep joined the club during the offseason after moving north from Canterbury, while Wellington’s Blackwell has graduated through the Hurricanes development programme to the full squad in 2017.
Former New Zealand Under 20s rake, O’Reilly has been called up as the third hooker in the tour squad due to a niggly hamstring injury to Leni Apisai.
Fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder (hamstring) and prop Loni Uhila (calf) were ruled unfit to travel, but Boyd said neither injury was serious.
“If we had been playing at home they may have been considered, but to sit on a long haul flight with a muscle injury like that was probably not a great idea,” he said. “It’s a long season, so we decided the prudent move was to leave them at home and get them 100 per cent right for our first home game against the Rebels in two weeks’ time.”
Boyd will name his match day 23 to play the Sunwolves on Thursday.
The Hurricanes 25-man touring squad for Japan is:
Ardie Savea, Beauden Barrett, Ben May, Blade Thomson, Brad Shields, Callum Gibbins, Chris Eves, Chris Smylie, Cory Jane, Dane Coles, James Blackwell, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Jordie Barrett, Julian Savea, James O’Reilly, Matt Proctor, Michael Fatialofa, Mike Kainga, Wes Goosen, Ngani Laumape, Otere Black, Reed Prinsep, Ricky Riccitelli, TJ Perenara, Vince Aso.