July 16, 2018 / 5:24 AM / 8 months ago

Rugby - Hurricanes unsure on Goosen after Fa'auli banned for high tackle

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The Wellington Hurricanes are unsure if centre Wes Goosen will be available for their Super Rugby quarter-final against the Waikato Chiefs on Friday after he was concussed following a high tackle by Jonny Fa’auli last week.

Fa’auli was given a red card for the tackle in the 28-24 victory in Hamilton last Friday and subsequently banned for six weeks, ruling him out of the re-match in Wellington.

Goosen, who normally plays on the wing but has been playing centre for the Hurricanes, failed two head injury assessments last week and assistant coach John Plumtree said on Monday it was still too early to tell if he could play.

“Obviously with a head injury it’s slightly different, so what part Wes plays in training this week we’ll have to wait and see,” Plumtree told reporters.

“We’re hoping by Thursday-Friday he will have gone through the protocols and be able to take a place in the starting 23.”

The fact Plumtree was hedging his bets publicly on Goosen’s fitness, however, likely indicates he will be unavailable.

The Hurricanes, like other New Zealand Super Rugby teams, have typically determined if a player can not train on Monday due to injury they are not considered for the match.

Plumtree, however, suggested that captain Brad Shields could get an exception if he is fit towards the end of this week after he came off with a rib injury against the Chiefs.

Shields, who made his test debut for England in June, is joining English club Wasps at the end of the Hurricanes’ season after more than 100 games with the Wellington-based side since he made his debut in 2012.

“With Brad there’s an exception because of the fact he’s the captain and we will give Brad time,” Plumtree said.

“He’ll do what’s best for the team; that’s the mark of the man. He’d love to be able to carry on and play the rest of the season but, if he’s not right, he’ll have to pull out and we’ll go with the others.”

The Hurricanes, despite finishing with the second-best points total and having home advantage, will enter the quarter-final as the underdog after losing four of their last five games.

They have also been unable to stamp their authority on their opposition or gel as an attacking unit in the last few weeks.

Plumtree, however, said he was confident the fact it was now at the playoffs stage the team would lift.

“This week is a quarter-final,” Plumtree said.

“The excitement will be there, it’s a massive game and I’m picking that some of the things we’ve talked about (and) worked on, we’re going to see this week.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the Hurricanes side that everyone wants to see this weekend.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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