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Injured Coles ruled out for Hurricanes

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/03/2017

Captain Dane Coles has succumbed to a bruised knee and will miss the Hurricanes Super Rugby clash with the Reds in Brisbane.

All Blacks hooker Coles suffered the injury during their last-start 41-15 thrashing of the Highlanders.

A bye round last week still didn't give him enough time to be fully fit for Saturday's match.

Ricky Riccitelli, who has played all four games this year for the defending champions, is promoted to start at hooker.

Halfback TJ Perenara will be captain, as he was in the season-opener against the Sunwolves, when Coles came off the bench.

Coach Chris Boyd says Coles' discomfort was enough of a reason to sideline the influential 30-year-old, who will be managed carefully through the season.

"Dane has a big season ahead and at some point he would have needed to be rotated out of the playing roster anyway," Boyd said.

Reserve hooker Leni Apisai is poised to make his first appearance of the campaign.

The only change from the Highlanders triumph is on the bench, where Pita Ahki replaces Wes Goosen as outside back cover.

Despite signing for the last year, it will be a Hurricanes debut for former Blues back Ahki, whose availability has been affected by injury and sevens commitments.

Loosehead prop Chris Eves will win his 50th cap, a figure which Boyd says may raise some eyebrows.

Eves was a surprise selection in 2014 straight out of club rugby and went on to entrench himself firstly as a bench specialist and now this season as a valuable starter in the absence of Reggie Goodes, who has ongoing concussion symptoms.

"He's been a good footballer for us. It would have taken a lot of people by surprise that Chris has played 50 games," Boyd said.

"He's probably a late developer by his own admission.

"He didn't start in the traditional route but he's an important part of our machine, that's for sure."

Boyd said lock Vaea Fifita and winger Cory Jane are likely to join Coles in being available next week to face the Waratahs.

He revealed No.8 Blade Thomson didn't require a shoulder reconstruction and should be available in 2-3 weeks.

Prop Loni Uhila (calf) will take about a month to be fit.

HURRICANES: Jordie Barrett, Vince Aso, Matt Proctor, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara (capt), Ardie Savea, Callum Gibbins, Brad Shields, Michael Fatialofa, Mark Abbott, Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves. Reserves: Leni Apisai, Ben May, Mike Kainga, Sam Lousi, Reed Prinsep, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Otere Black, Pita Ahki.

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