Lengthy lay-off for All Black Ioane
INJURY UPDATE: The Blues will have an early test of their depth with three players receiving significant injuries during their opening defeat to Chiefs.
In a statement, the Blues confirmed All Blacks wing Rieko Ioane – who scored two tries at Eden Park – will be out of action for “several weeks” after fracturing his hand in Friday’s fixture.
Hooker Ray Niuia has suffered a season-ending knee injury while prop Alex Hodgman has a calf tear.
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Ioane, 22, arrived at the Blues in excellent physical condition – he revealed he has dropped his weight a little in order to find more mobility – and he showed during his 56 minutes against the Chiefs that he will once again be a key attacking weapon for Leon MacDonald’s side as he attempts to force his way back into the All Blacks starting mix.
“To be able to do that in his 50th game, I’m pleased for him,” MacDonald said of Ioane’s performance straight afterwards. “I’m pleased he could do it in front of his friends and family. He’s a really passionate Blues man and I think his performance showed that today; he gave it everything.”
He won’t be in a position to do that again for presumably six weeks. The Blues play the Waratahs in Newcastle on Saturday and straight away MacDonald has been forced to re-shuffle his side. Six days later the formidable Crusaders visit Eden Park.
The Blues confirmed that veteran hooker James Parsons and flyhalf Otere Black are both expected to return from injuries as early as this week.
While Finlay Christie is also close to a return to play from a neck injury; while forwards Gerard Cowley-Tuioti and Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa will return next month, as will lock James Tucker from a knee injury.
Rugbypass & @NZHerald
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