Hurricanes sending big names to Japan

Hurricanes flanker Ardie Savea. photo / Mark Mitchell
Hurricanes flanker Ardie Savea. photo / Mark Mitchell

The Hurricanes have taken a solid 25-man squad to Japan to open the team's Super Rugby title defence against the Sunwolves in Tokyo on Saturday.

The touring squad includes all five of the Hurricanes' 2016 All Blacks with captain and hooker Dane Coles, openside Ardie Savea, wing Julian Savea, first five Beauden Barrett and halfback TJ Perenara all on the plane to Japan.

Four uncapped Hurricanes have made the trip in utility back Jordie Barrett, loose forward Reed Prinsep, lock James Blackwell, and hooker James O'Reilly.

Barrett and Prinsep joined the franchise during the off-season after moving north from Canterbury, while Wellington's Blackwell has graduated through the Hurricanes development programme to the full squad in 2017.

Former New Zealand Under 20s rake O'Reilly has been called up as the third hooker in the tour squad due to a niggly hamstring injury to Leni Apisai. Flanker Callum Gibbins, who is said to have signed with Glasgow Warriors once his Super Rugby season is done, has made the trip. He will link up with his old Manawatu coach Dave Rennie in Scotland.

Fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder (hamstring) and prop Loni Uhila (calf) were ruled unfit to travel, but coach Chris Boyd said neither injury was serious.

"If we had been playing at home they may have been considered, but to sit on a long haul flight with a muscle injury like that was probably not a great idea," he said. "It's a long season, so we decided the prudent move was to leave them at home and get them 100 percent right for our first home game against the Rebels in two weeks' time."

Boyd will name his match-day 23 to play the Sunwolves tomorrow (Thursday).

The Hurricanes' 25-man touring squad for Japan is: Ardie Savea, Beauden Barrett, Ben May, Blade Thomson, Brad Shields, Callum Gibbins, Chris Eves, Chris Smylie, Cory Jane, Dane Coles, James Blackwell, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Jordie Barrett, Julian Savea, James O'Reilly, Matt Proctor, Michael Fatialofa, Mike Kainga, Wes Goosen, Ngani Laumape, Otere Black, Reed Prinsep, Ricky Riccitelli, TJ Perenara, Vince Aso

- NZ Herald

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