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Hurricanes hit with injury blow as new playmaker ruled out for season

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

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New Hurricanes first-five Simon Hickey’s return to Super Rugby is over before it even started, with the 27-year-old playmaker ruled out of action for the season.

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Hickey signed with the Hurricanes for the 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign, taking the place of the unwanted Fletcher Smith.

But, his Super Rugby comeback following a five-season stint in Europe with Bordeaux and Edinburgh has been thwarted after he ruptured his ACL.

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The Auckland playmaker, who marked his return to New Zealand rugby in last year’s Mitre 10 Cup, took to his private Instagram profile to confirm the injury news on Tuesday.

“Pre season started with high hopes and ended with a ruptured ACL. Gutted I won’t get the opportunity to wear this jersey this season. Going to be a tough year but I’ll be back,” Hickey wrote.

The injury leaves experienced pivot Jackson Garden-Bachop as the only specialist No. 10 in the Hurricanes squad a week-and-a-half out from the kick-off of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Garden-Bachop started against the Blues in the game-of-three-halves in Upper Hutt on Saturday, with former Blues, Chiefs and New Zealand U20 five-eighth Orbyn Leger starting against the Chiefs.

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That could mean Leger is in line for a full contract with the Wellington franchise, a deal that would make the Hurricanes his third Super Rugby franchise in four seasons.

Other options include star utility back Jordie Barrett, who played at first-five for the All Blacks against Namibia at the 2019 World Cup, and teenage rookie Ruben Love, who scored a try and two conversions against the Chiefs from fullback on Satuday.

Hickey becomes the latest injury concern for Super Rugby franchises throughout the pre-season period.

In New Zealand, the Blues have lost wing Jone Macilai-Tori for the season through a fractured arm, while the Highlanders are without new recruit Jermaine Ainsley for the year due to a high ankle sprain.

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The three-test Wallabies prop joins Pari Pari Parkinson (ankle) and Sam Gilbert (knee) as the franchise’s long-term injury concerns, while loosehead prop Ayden Johnstone is still recovering from a concussion sustained ahead of the North vs South game.

At the Crusaders, one-test midfielder Braydon Ennor is also expected to be gone for the season because of the ACL he ruptured in that same game, and All Blacks wing George Bridge isn’t expected to return from a long-standing chest injury until after three-to-four weeks of action.

The reigning champion’s Irish prop Oli Jager, meanwhile, left last week’s pre-season clash with the Highlanders with a potentially serious ankle injury.

Across the ditch in Australia, notable players to have picked up serious injuries include Wallabies wing Tom Wright (knee) and Reds captain Liam Wright (foot), both of whom will miss large chunks of Super Rugby AU.

The Hurricanes will face the Highlanders in their final pre-season clash in Alexandra on Friday, before opening their Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign against the Blues in Wellington next Saturday.

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Hurricanes hit with injury blow as new playmaker ruled out for season

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