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Hurrricanes down on All Blacks for Blues contest

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Lynn McConnell     10 Mar 2016     Getty Images

All Blacks Dane Coles, Nehe Milner-Skudder and Cory Jane are all in doubt ahead of the game.

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said Coles was 50-50 from a medical point of view, but they may take three hookers to Auckland and make a final decision on Friday. He was 'pretty keen' to play but management were aware there was a long season ahead for him and would take that into consideration and didn't want to push him too hard to play.

Milner-Skudder was 50-50 and Cory Jane was going through concussion protocols and on a short week would not be finally assessed until Thursday afternoon.

If neither player makes it Jason Woodward would start on the right wing.

Boyd said All Blacks left wing Julian Savea had had a quiet start to the season.

"Julian would be pleased to get more out of himself. He's coming to his game but is not right on top of it yet. One thing we do know about Julian is the more he plays the better he gets," he said.

The nine changes for the Blues reflected a different selection philosophy between management groups. There were always pluses and minuses for different philosophies.

However, Boyd said it did have a good impact on a squad when players were receiving shared game time but, to offset that, it reduced the ability to settle combinations.

Blues No.8 Akira Ioane had made an impression in the national provincial championship, with some cameos in the Sevens and was obviously a handful, he said.

"We thought he might play this week, so they've got a lot of quality in their back row with Kaino, Luatua and Blake Gibson is playing particularly well so we know what we're up against in that space," he said.

"The Conference is so tough there is just nowhere to relax. One week after the next you've got to keep putting a performance on," he said.

The Blues would have tried to play last week like they did the week before but came up against a Crusaders team determined to win at home, he said.

"In isolation we'll attempt to play the best we can at the weekend. If that's not good enough for the Blues at Eden Park we've just got to worry about the Force the following week – 0 and 3 is not terminal but you start putting yourself in a tough position," he said.

Boyd said James Broadhurst was still under concussion protocols and was still experiencing headaches and until they stopped he wouldn't move into return to play phases.