Asafo Aumua appears to be still grasping the realities of professional rugby.

The dynamic hooker took no part in the Hurricanes' final preseason victory over the Blues in Warkworth on Thursday and was a curious absence from Chris Boyd's 28-man squad to tour South Africa and Argentina.

Last year was a whirlwind ride as the 20-year-old went from starring with the New Zealand under-20s to Wellington and onto the All Blacks northern tour where he featured in matches against the Barbarians and French XV.

Playing for the All Blacks before a Super Rugby franchise is a rare feat, and speaks to Aumua's long-term potential.


His destructive ball carrying, pace in the wide channels and ferocious defence captured wide-spread attention, but this season has not started well.

While keen to manage expectations around such a young talent, it is understood Aumua's omission from the Hurricanes' opening two matches against the Bulls and Jaguares is because he did not return in the condition expected for Super Rugby.

Hurricanes assistant coach Jason Holland confirmed as much as the Hurricanes departed for South Africa on Friday.

"There's little things he would've tweaked in the way he spent the first few weeks around Christmas but nothing around lack of effort," Holland told Radio Sport's Brenton Vannisselroy. "It's around the way he trains. We're just looking to him to get some running metres under the belt over the next few weeks in Wellington and he'll be absolutely flying to go then.

"We just want to make sure we give him every opportunity to be at his best for the whole season. We don't want to throw him into something when he's not 100 per cent ready to pay footy. He's one we've been careful with. Maybe it was best for him to go home for two weeks and continue his conditioning. He's got a niggly rib injury which probably wasn't too bad but just to make sure we don't throw him in and break him for another couple of weeks."

With Dane Coles on the long comeback trail from his ACL rupture and not expected to return until at least June, turning up out of shape represents a missed opportunity for Aumua.

The Hurricanes have preferred established Taranaki hooker Ricky Riccitelli and Wellington's James O'Reilly for the two-leg trip.

At best, Aumua now has to wait until the Hurricanes' third match at home against the Crusaders to make his debut at this level.

Watching his team-mates start the season is sure to serve a reminder about expectations.

Holland also confirmed Beauden Barrett will come off the bench in Pretoria after joining the squad late due to his presence two weddings this weekend, one of which involves his brother Kane.

"We'll see how Beauden travels over. To be honest I'll be surprised if he's not involved in the 23."

Barrett's commitments open the door for either former Blues playmaker Ihaia West or Wellington's Jackson Garden-Bachop to start at No 10.

"They're both going really well. We've played them 40 minutes each in both of our preseason games so we'll have to have a look at the footage."

The Hurricanes squad for South Africa and Argentina:

Forwards; Toby Smith, Chris Eves, Ben May, Fraser Armstrong, Alex Fidow, Ricky Riccitelli, James O'Rielly, Sam Lousi, Murray Douglas, Michael Fatialofa, Vaea Fifita, Brad Shields (c), Ardie Savea, Gareth Evans, Blade Thomson;

Backs, TJ Perenara, Jamie Booth, Beauden Barrett, Ihaia West, Ngani Laumape, Matt Proctor, Vince Aso, Wes Goosen, Julian Savea, Ben Lam, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Jonah Lowe.

To get the day's top sports stories in your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here