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Hurricanes suffer injury blow on eve of Super...

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Hurricanes suffer injury blow on eve of Super Rugby opener

The Hurricanes have lost their most experienced lock to a lengthy injury on the eve of their Super Rugby season-opener.

Sam Lousi has succumbed to a pectoral injury – which is being described as “not short-term” by Hurricanes assistant coach Jason Holland – just four days out from their first match of 2019 against the Waratahs in Sydney.

“We’ll work through that in the next couple of days and see where that’s going to go, but he’s definitely not a short-term injury,” Holland told Fairfax.

“He’s done his pec, just how serious that is we’re figuring out.”

Holland said that while a few players were carrying pre-season injury niggles, none were considered to be as serious as Lousi.

The 27-year-old joins newly-wed All Blacks playmaker Beauden Barrett in being unavailable for this weekend’s clash at Brookvale Oval, although few of the Hurricanes’ eight current All Blacks are expected to start.

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“We’ve just got to be smart around how we manage everyone,” Holland said.

“They’ve had limited pre-seasons, so we’ll be smart about how much time guys get and who starts.

“I’d say we’ll be very much like the Tahs in that they’ll all be involved in some way.”

There is a severe lack of experience in the Hurricanes’ second row stocks in the absence of Lousi, with James Blackwell the only other lock in the squad with more than one Super Rugby cap.

Isaiah Walker-Leawere and Geoff Cridge will probably vacate the spot left open by Lousi, as a Super Rugby debut off just 14 provincial caps for Manawatu lock Liam Mitchell might be too much of a gamble.

Vaea Fifita could slot into the second row, but the nine-test All Black has been vocal about his desire to play at blindside flanker.

However, the depth of loose forwards within the Hurricanes squad could count against Fifita, with Ardie Savea, Gareth Evans, Reed Prinsep and Heiden Bedwell-Curtis all capable of filling in while the 26-year-old toils away in the tight five.

“I wouldn’t say we’re hellbent on him being a six, we’d like to think we can use his skillset at six, but at the end of the day, depending on what injuries happen, you’ve got to do what’s best for the team at the time,” Holland said.

“He’s a six in our eyes who can cover lock.”

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Hurricanes suffer injury blow on eve of Super Rugby opener | RugbyPass