Hurricanes captain Dane Coles is a 50-50 proposition to play his first match of the Super Rugby season against the Blues on Friday, coach Chris Boyd says.
Coles has been bracketed with Leni Apisai to start at Eden Park in Auckland, but still needs to prove his fitness.
Doubts also linger about two other All Blacks: Nehe Milner-Skudder will need to overcome a bruised knee and Cory Jane will have to prove he has recovered from a head knock.
Boyd said on Wednesday that he wouldn’t be rushing any decisions.
“From a medical point of view, (he’s) 50-50.”
“We may take three hookers with us to Auckland and make our decision on Friday. He’s pretty keen to play, but we’re aware of the fact that it’s a long season for Dane so we don’t want to be pushing him too hard.”
Boyd, searching for the franchise’s first win of the season after defeats by the Brumbies and Highlanders, has kept the right wing berth open.
“That’s reasonably complex – Nehe is maybe 50-50, Cory Jane is going through concussion protocols and on a short week he won’t get cleared to play at very best after the captain’s run tomorrow.
“If neither of those guys make it, Jason Woodward will start on the right wing and Pita Ahki will come into the reserves,” he said.
Boyd said the Hurricanes were fortunate to have five quality players who could fill that space, with another in the offing once Matt Proctor returns from injury.
Prop Reggie Goodes is set to play his 50th match for the Hurricanes after making his debut in 2012.
Hurricanes: James Marshall, TBA, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Mark Abbott, Blade Thomson, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles/Leni Apisai, Reggie Goodes. Reserves: Apisai/Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves, Loni Uhila, Vaea Fifita, Callum Gibbins, Jamison Gibson-Park, Willis Halaholo, TBA.