April 13, 2017 / 1:31 AM / 9 months ago

Rugby-Coles still battling injury blues, to miss Auckland game

WELLINGTON, April 13 (Reuters) - All Blacks hooker Dane Coles will miss the Super Rugby clash against Auckland Blues on Saturday as he continues to struggle with the injury woes that have kept him out of the Wellington Hurricanes side for a month.

Coles sustained a knee injury in the 41-15 victory over the Otago Highlanders on March 18, but the reigning Super Rugby champions said on Thursday a sore calf muscle would prevent him from returning against the Blues at Eden Park.

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd was, however, able to recall flanker Ardie Savea and his older brother Julian, who both missed last week’s 38-28 win over the New South Wales Waratahs.

Unlike Ardie, who sustained a calf injury against the Queensland Reds on April 1, Julian had been rested for the match.

His return forces Wes Goosen, who impressed against the Waratahs, to shift to the right wing in place of former All Blacks winger Cory Jane, who drops to the bench.

Vince Aso moves back into the centres to replace Matt Proctor, who has suffered a concussion.

“Julian and Vince have both been in great form this season and we always expected them to return to the starting side for the Blues and Wes demanded selection after taking his opportunity against the Waratahs,” Boyd said.

”Matty Proctor picked up a fairly minor head knock, so he wasn’t considered and he’ll go through the necessary concussion protocols.

“We’re lucky that Vince is equally (as) comfortable at centre as he is on the wing.”

Aso and midfield partner Ngani Laumape will have their hands full with All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams making his first start for the Blues after he came off the bench last week against the Highlanders.

New Zealand Rugby on Wednesday granted Williams a dispensation to wear a jersey and shorts stripped of the logos of financial institutions on religious grounds.

The Blues said on Thursday he would instead wear a jersey that promoted a children’s community organisation. (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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