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Hurricanes release players to play club rugby

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Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd has released 20 players who are not involved in the June Internationals to play club rugby.

As the June international test window is a month long Boyd wants the players to get some valuable game time

As a result the premier club rugby competitions in Wellington, Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay will get an injection of Super Rugby talent on Saturday.

Eleven Hurricanes will pull on their club colours during the opening round of Wellington’s Jubilee Cup and a further three in the province’s second tier Hardham Cup competition.

The Marist St Pats team to play Tawa at Lyndhurst Park will feature two former All Blacks in tight head Jeffery Toomaga-Allen and No 8 Victor Vito as well as popular prop Loni Uhila, while carry over Jubilee Cup champions Old Boys University will have the services of prop Ben May and centre Wes Goosen against an Upper Hutt side featuring fullback Jason Woodward at the Basin Reserve.

Over at Kilbirnie Park, prop Reggie Goodes and centre Willis Halaholo will line up for Poneke against Oriental Rongotai, while exciting loose forward Vaea Fifita will pack down with the Wellington Axemen against Wainuiomata at Hataitai Park.

And in the Hardham Cup, loose forward Brad Shields and lock James Blackwell will be in action at the Petone Recreation Ground against MSP’s premier reserves, while halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi will bolster Johnsonville’s ranks against OBU B at Helston Park.

In addition to those involved in Wellington club rugby, a further six Hurricanes will play in the Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay competitions.

Locks Geoff Cridge and Mark Abbott as well as hooker Ricky Riccitelli will play for their club teams in Hawke’s Bay, while prop Chris Eves, openside Callum Gibbins and first five Otere Black will pull on their local colours in Manawatu.

The players have been made available to their clubs during a four week period that sees Super Rugby take a break while the All Blacks will play three tests against Wales, the second of which will be at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said it would be great to see his players out representing their clubs across the region and keeping match fit until the team’s Super Rugby campaign resumes against the Blues at Westpac Stadium on July 2.

“Our players are proud of their club roots and all of them came through the club competitions before they became Hurricanes. They enjoy the opportunity to give something back and our clubs continue to play a vital role in New Zealand rugby.”

Wellington Lions head coach Earl Va’a said he was pleased anytime the province’s professional players were able to go back to their clubs and make a contribution on the playing field.

“It’s a win for everyone involved. Our club players learn a lot from playing alongside full time professional athletes, and they also to test themselves against them.

“Our club coaches get the chance to tap into the knowledge these guys bring back to the training paddock and as a provincial coach I get the chance to measure the progress of the players in the frame for the Lions.”

Props Ben May (Old Boys University) and Loni Uhila (MSP) were initially included in the release but have since been ruled out of their respective club matches due to minor injuries.

Hurricanes players released to play club rugby on Saturday, June 11:

Wellington: Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Victor Vito (Marist St Pats); Wes Goosen (Old Boys University); Reggie Goodes, Willis Halaholo (Poneke); Hisa Sasagi (Tawa); Jason Woodward (Upper Hutt Rams); Peter Umaga-Jensen (Wainuiomata); Vaea Fifita (Wellington); Brad Shields, James Blackwell (Petone); Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Johnsonville).

Withdrawn due to injury: Ben May (OBU), Loni Uhila (MSP)

Hawke’s Bay: Geoff Cridge (Hastings Rugby and Sport), Mark Abbott (Napier Old Boys Marist), Ricky Riccitelli (Havelock North).

Manawatu: Chris Eves (Kia Toa), Callum Gibbins (Varsity), Otere Black (College Old Boys).

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