Hurricanes welcome back All Blacks

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Lynn McConnell     03 Mar 2017     Getty Images

The Hurricanes welcomed back their All Blacks Dane Coles, Beauden Barrett and Nehe Milner-Skudder to the starting XV but are still below full strength due to nine or 10 injuries.

Coach Chris Boyd said a scan on Friday would determine the fate of No.8 Blade Thomson's season. Having had shoulder reconstruction surgery last year the worst case scenario was that he would need a season-ending surgical procedure but the management were hopeful it would not be so serious.


In the meantime they had opted to give Reed Prinsep the chance to make his own claim to fill the role for the side.

And while wing Cory Jane was able to do everything except take contact due to the bulging disc in his neck, he would not be eligible for selection and it was at least likely to be three weeks before he could be considered, Boyd said.

The decision to play Milner-Skudder at fullback upon his return was not a sign that he was preferred in the position for the season. Boyd said form would determine that as they had three players capable of filling the role – Milner-Skudder, Jordy Barrett and Jane were all more than competent fullbacks and were backed by several good wings.

Milner-Skudder said he was looking forward to getting back into action.

"It's been a long time coming missing out last year so I'm fizzing for this week," he said.

It had been frustrating to play the pre-season games, and the 10s and then have to come off in the last pre-season game against the Crusaders with a niggle that he hoped would recover in time for the Sunwolves game was disappointing.

But it had probably been a sensible call to stay home and work on the injury to be ready for this week, he said.
Watching the side in action in Tokyo he said he was impressed with the way they stuck to their patterns when it would have been easy to move away from their structure.

"We know there's going to be a massive challenge this week. The Rebels will be hurting coming off last week's game, especially to perform like that at home. We know we'll face a different beast this week and we'll definitely be on top of our game," he said.

Prinsep said he relished the chance to make his debut off the bench last week and was thrilled to be able to make his starting debut this week.

The key lesson from the Sunwolves game had been the need to play for the 80 minutes.

"We performed really well for the first 60 then we dropped off a bit for the last 20 so in those tight games that could cost you," he said.

Having hooker and captain Coles, first five-eighths Barrett and Milner-Skudder come back into the starting XV had been great during the preparation for the game and for him as a younger player.

Prinsep said his goal in joining the Hurricanes from Canterbury had been to try and gain a consistent place in the match 23 while also pushing towards being involved in the Maori All Blacks, with whom he toured last year, for the game against the British and Irish Lions.

And he was happy to do that at either No.8 or blindside flanker as he enjoyed both positions.