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Lomu could be ruled out of Higlanders clash
Wellington
March 8, 2000

Hurricanes winger Jonah Lomu may miss Saturday's crucial Super 12 match against the Highlanders in Dunedin after injuring his hand in last weekend's clash with the Reds.

Lomu has an unspecified finger injury on his left hand, caused when one of his teammates stood on it, and has been given until Saturday to prove his fitness.

The Hurricanes' two hard-working props, Kevin Yates and Gordon Slater, seem set for another hard afternoon's work on Saturday after Mike Edwards, who strained a calf muscle last week, has still not recovered sufficiently to take his place in the starting line-up. He sat on the bench for the Super 12 game against the Reds, but was in the "not to be used unless absolutely necessary'' category.

The Hurricanes will call on Taranaki's Tama Tuirirangi as their prop reserve, but he hasn't had a game since last year's NPC. Tuirirangi missed all pre-season matches and had to postpone his playing return at a Taranaki club match last weekend because of a tight hamstring. He did come through a scrum session on Tuesday though.

Hurricanes' Coach Graham Mourie said it was unlikely that they would look outside their squad for a replacement because of a shortage of props capable of playing on both sides of the front row - something which Tuirirangi specializes in. "I think at this stage we'll try to stick within the squad,'' Mourie said. The Hurricanes are unlikely to make any further changes, although Mourie will continue his policy of rotating reserves.

The Highlanders will not name their team until Thursday afternoon. Coach Peter Sloane will be without the services of fullback Mark Ellis and No 8 Paul Miller, while loosehead prop Carl Hoeft still has to prove his fitness. Good news though is that Romi Ropati has recovered from a groin injury, while Tony Brown and Byron Kelleher are both available after suffering minor injuries in the victory over the Sharks last weekend.

Hurricanes possible team: Christian Cullen, Jonah Lomu or Brad Fleming, Alama Ieremia, Tana Umaga, Jason O'Halloran, David Holwell, Jason Spice, Gordon Falcon, Kupu Vanisi, Dion Waller, Inoke Afeaki, Campbell Feather, Kevin Yates, Norm Hewitt (capt), Gordon Slater. Substitues: Daryl Lilley, Joggie Viljoen, Paul Steinmetz, Semi Sititi, Paul Tito, Tama Tuirirangi, Shane Carter

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