Milner-Skudder out of Hurricanes opener

Super Rugby
by AAP

A hamstring injury means Nehe Milner-Skudder's long wait to return to Super Rugby with the Hurricanes continues.

All Blacks winger Milner-Skudder wasn't among the 25 players who boarded a flight to Tokyo for Saturday's opening-round match against the Sunwolves.

The absence of Milner-Skudder, whose 2016 season was wiped out by a shoulder injury, is likely to result in a debut at fullback for uncapped 20-year-old Jordie Barrett.

Milner-Skudder in action last weekend for the Hurricanes against the Crusaders. Photo: Getty Images.The defending champions will also be without prop Loni Uhila (calf), heaping pressure on their loosehead side of the scrum.

With first-choice No.1 Reggie Goodes still recovering from a head knock, veteran Ben May is set to start in the front row.

Coach Chris Boyd says the pair could well be fit for their first home match a week later, against the Melbourne Rebels.

Milner-Skudder's injury is likely to see the Super Rugby debut of Jordie Barrett. Photo: Getty Images."If we had been playing at home they may have been considered but to sit on a long haul flight with a muscle injury like that was probably not a great idea," Boyd said.

"It's a long season, so we decided the prudent move was to leave them at home and get them 100 per cent right."

Captain Dane Coles, who missed all the pre-season games, is in the squad, alongside fellow-All Blacks TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Ardie Savea and older brother Julian Savea.

Four uncapped Hurricanes have made the trip: utility back Jordie Barrett, loose forward Reed Prinsep, lock James Blackwell, and hooker James O'Reilly.

Former New Zealand under-20 forward O'Reilly is the squad's third hooker after Leni Apisai succumbed to a hamstring niggle.