1 Mar 2010

Midfield injury woes strike Hurricanes as they prepare for their South African assault

10:05 am on 1 March 2010

The Hurricanes coach Colin Cooper has been forced to make a number of changes to his squad departing for South Africa, with Jason Eaton, Tamati Ellison, Jason Kawau and Conrad Smith all unavailable.

Kawau is recovering from sinus surgery and will not travel to the republic for at least another week, whilst the other three players were injured in Saturday night's 33-18 victory over the Lions at Westpac Stadium.

Eaton ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and it is likely he will require surgery, putting him out of the game for up to six months. This follows a similar injury to his left knee in 2007.

Ellison suffered a contusion to his right shoulder and will be unavailable for next weekend's game against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

Smith has sprained a ligament in his right thumb and will also miss the Cheetahs game.

With three midfield backs injured, the Hurricanes will travel with just 25 players, including Alapati Leiua from the Hurricanes Wider Training Group and Brett Mather from the Highlanders Wider Training Group.

A 26th player will be added to the squad in time for the match against the Stormers in Cape Town on March the 14th with the possibility that Mather could return home if more than one player recovers in time.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Thrush and Anthony Perenise enjoyed successful returns from injury for the Wellington Development XV and Wainuiomata respectively.

They will both travel to South Africa with the main party.

Hosea Gear will remain in New Zealand as he continues his rehabilitation from knee surgery and he is expected to be available for selection in around a month.