June 1, 2017 / 4:59 AM / 4 months ago

Rugby-Barrett, Milner-Skudder to take on Force in Perth

WELLINGTON, June 1 (Reuters) - All Blacks coach Steve Hansen’s concerns over injuries to his players were lessened a little on Thursday with flyhalf Beauden Barrett and utility back Nehe Milner-Skudder named by the Wellington Hurricanes to face the Western Force on Saturday.

Barrett, the World Player of the Year, missed last week’s 34-20 victory over the Bulls after arriving in South Africa suffering headaches and was rested as a precaution.

The 26-year-old returns in the number 10 jersey for the clash in Perth, having played at fullback against the Cheetahs in Wellington two weeks ago.

Milner-Skudder, who has a slim chance at making the All Blacks squad to face the British and Irish Lions after almost 15 months without regular rugby, will come off the bench against the Force.

Hansen is expected to name his squad for the Lions series on June 8, the day after the tourists have played the Auckland Blues.

The World Cup winner missed virtually all of last year with a shoulder injury that required reconstructive surgery, then in his second game back against the Chiefs on March 10 broke two bones in his foot.

“It’s great to have Nehe back in the mix,” Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said in a statement. “I know he’s worked extremely hard during his rehab and he can’t wait to pull on the Hurricanes jersey and get back into the campaign.”

The Hurricanes are second in the New Zealand conference on 48 points, while the Force have 17 points and appear unlikely to make the playoffs as the top-ranked Australian side with the ACT Brumbies leading their conference on 28 points. (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by John O‘Brien)

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