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Milner-Skudder out of Hurricanes opener

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/02/2017

A hamstring injury means Nehe Milner-Skudder's long wait to return to rugby with the Hurricanes continues.

All Blacks winger Milner-Skudder wasn't among the 25 players who boarded a flight to Tokyo for Saturday's opening-round match against the Sunwolves.

The absence of Milner-Skudder, whose 2016 season was wiped out by a serious shoulder injury, is likely to result in a debut at fullback for uncapped 20-year-old Jordie Barrett.

The defending champions will also be without prop Loni Uhila (calf), heaping pressure on their loosehead side of the scrum.

With first-choice No.1 Reggie Goodes still recovering from a head knock, veteran Ben May is set to start in the front row.

Coach Chris Boyd says the pair could well be fit for their first home match a week later, against the Melbourne Rebels.

"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," Boyd 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."

Captain Dane Coles, who missed all the pre-season games, is in the squad, alongside fellow-All Blacks TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Ardie Savea and older brother Julian Savea.

Four uncapped Hurricanes have made the trip: utility back Jordie Barrett, loose forward Reed Prinsep, lock James Blackwell, and hooker James O'Reilly.

Former New Zealand under-20 forward O'Reilly is the squad's third hooker after Leni Apisai succumbed to a hamstring niggle.

Hurricanes tour squad: Jordie Barrett, Cory Jane, Julian Savea, Wes Goosen, Matt Proctor, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Beauden Barrett, Otere Black, TJ Perenara, Chris Smylie, Blade Thomson, Brad Shields, Ardie Savea, Callum Gibbins, Reed Prinsep, Michael Fatialofa, James Blackwell, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Mike Kainga, Ben May, Chris Eves, Dane Coles (capt), Ricky Riccitelli, James O'Reilly.

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