Rugby: Under 20s feel loss of 'gutted' Hickey

By Campbell Burnes

Simon Hickey's sprain will lay him up for weeks. Photo / Getty Images
Simon Hickey's sprain will lay him up for weeks. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand Under 20s skipper Simon Hickey will take no further part in the Junior World Championship after his high ankle sprain against Scotland on Tuesday night.

The team will miss his leadership and goalkicking - he's one of the best off the tee in the country - and he'll be sidelined for four to six weeks, making his return to the Blues in the closing rounds of Super rugby touch and go.

Hickey tried to run off the sprain late in the first half against Scotland, positioning himself at fullback or on the wing, but when he pulled out just into the second spell, it was clear he was lame.

"I was hoping it would come right but it didn't," said Hickey, replying to suggestions he might have aggravated it by not subbing immediately.

"I'm really gutted. We were lucky with the Wales result going our way on Tuesday, but I'm excited now that we have a chance to beat South Africa and make it to the final."

Hickey will still be on the sideline at training and games on crutches to offer tactical advice and encouragement.

"We're obviously feeling for Simon, who is disappointed his tournament is done," said coach Chris Boyd.

"He's an influential player of real calibre, so we're disappointed to be losing his skills and leadership on the field. Fortunately, we do have a couple of good options in players who have all had a run."

Those other options at No10 are Richie Mo'unga, who has looked tidy in his time there and accurate off the tee, while Damian McKenzie is more than capable of doing a job there, but is likely to be used at fullback.

Tasman's David Havili was whistled up as replacement, and he can cover first-five, wing and fullback.

- NZ Herald

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