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Skipper Coles touch-and-go for rugby semi

NZN 28/07/2016

Ricky Riccitelli has been pencilled in to replace crocked Hurricanes skipper Dane Coles if the All Black fails to recover in time for this weekend's Super Rugby semi-final.

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd has named an unchanged side to take on the Chiefs in Wellington, with Riccitelli on stand-by as Coles struggles for fitness.

The 29-year-old captain is named in the starting XV and will be given until matchday to prove he has overcome the rib injury sustained in last weekend's mauling of the Sharks.

Riccitelli, 21, will claim the No.2 jersey if Coles fails to recover, with Leni Apisai to take up a spot on the bench.

"Colesy is improving each day and doing everything he can to get himself fit," Boyd said on Thursday afternoon.

"We are hopeful he'll make it to the start line but if he doesn't, we have every confidence in Ricky and Leni to do the job for us."

Riccitelli has appeared as a substitute in seven Super Rugby matches in 2016, while Apisai has played three games.

Elsewhere, All Blacks flyer Julian Savea remains on the bench after poor form resulted in his axing from the starting XV.

Brother Ardie Savea will start as flanker.

Boyd said he expected his side to maintain the high standards set in their 41-0 crushing of the Sharks last Saturday.

Naming a mostly unchanged line-up would help settle the side.

"Whoever goes out there on Saturday knows we are in for a really tough test because the Chiefs are a quality team," Boyd said.

The Hurricanes' previous match against the Chiefs in Wellington finished in a nail-biting 28-27 loss.

Hurricanes: James Marshall, Cory Jane, Matt Proctor, Willis Halaholo, Jason Woodward, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Michael Fatialofa, Vaea Fifita, Ben May, Dane Coles (Ricky Riccitelli), Loni Uhila.

Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli (Leni Apisai), Chris Eves, Mike Kainga, Mark Abbott, Callum Gibbins, Jamison Gibson Park, Vince Aso, Julian Savea.

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