Wellington based Super Rugby franchise the Hurricanes have been given a boost for their match against the Blues in Auckland as wings Nehe Milner-Skudder and Cory Jane will both start.
Milner-Skudder and Jane both passed fitness tests but team captain Dane Coles will miss another week of Super Rugby after succumbing to a calf strain.
Milner-Skudder will start on the right wing after recovering from the bruised knee that kept him out of the Hurricanes last match, while fellow wing Cory Jane has passed his concussion testing and will take his place in the reserves.
Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd had given the trio until today to prove their fitness and though disappointed that Coles had been ruled out, was pleased to have his two outside backs available.
“It’s a long season and we aren’t going to take any chances with Dane at this stage, so even though he’s close we’ve decided to err on the side of caution and make sure he’s 100 per cent.
“We are really lucky in the outside backs to have some real depth and with James Marshall playing particularly well against the Highlanders he deserves his start at fullback.
“With Cory taking a knock against the Highlanders he was a late call after making it through the concussion protocols, so Nehe gets a chance to start on the right wing.”
Coles, who missed the opening two rounds of the season due to hamstring and calf strains, had been bracketed with young hooker Leni Apisai, who will now start his third match in a row in the No 2 jersey. TJ Perenara will again captain the side from halfback.
The right wing spot had been left open to allow the Hurricanes medical staff time to assess Milner-Skudder’s bruised knee and for Jane to complete the mandatory concussion protocols.
Injuries aside, Boyd has again stuck largely with the same team that came so close against the Highlanders before losing 17-16 in Dunedin.
Milner-Skudder is the only change to the starting fifteen, while Jane takes Jason Woodward’s place on an otherwise unchanged reserves bench.
Matt Proctor (knee), Motu Matu’u (calf), James Blackwell (foot), and Otere Black (leg) were unavailable due to injury.
15 James Marshall, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Blade Thomson, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Leni Apisai, 1 Reggie Goodes
Replacments : Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves, Loni Uhila, Vaea Fifita, Callum Gibbins, Jamison Gibson-Park, Willis Halaholo, Cory Jane.