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March 24, 2017 9:09

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16:37 24 February 2017

Rugby: Hurricanes' Jane could miss Sunwolves clash after sitting out captain's run

By Rich Freeman
TOKYO, Feb. 24, Kyodo

The Hurricanes look set to make a late change to their starting XV for Saturday's Super Rugby opener against the Sunwolves after Cory Jane sat out Friday's captain's run at Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground.

The 34-year-old -- who has been capped 53 times by the All Blacks and who has played 111 games for the defending Super Rugby champions -- didn't take part in any of the team drills, watching from the sidelines in his tracksuit.

A spokesman for the team said the line-up was set to be changed but he could not confirm who would take Jane's place on the wing.

If he does miss the game, it would be a big blow for Jane, who played for Toshiba Brave Lupus in the recently completed Top League season.

Jane told media in New Zealand that he enjoyed his time in Japan but had struggled with the rugby and Saturday's game would have been the perfect chance for him to show the Japanese public what they missed during Toshiba's disappointing league campaign.

TJ Perenara, who leads the Hurricanes on Saturday with All Blacks hooker Dane Coles starting the game on the bench, said Jane had been a useful player to have on the trip.

"He's played over here, understands how the Japanese play and given us some insight into how the game is played," the scrumhalf said.

Perenara went on to say that he expects the Sunwolves "to play a very energetic game. They commit a lot to rucks, play hard...and have threats across the field."

Perenara would normally expect to partner 2016 World Rugby Player of the Year Beauden Barrett, the pair having played 20 straight games together. But the All Blacks flyhalf will join Coles on the bench as the pair are eased back into Super Rugby following New Zealand's end-of-year tour.

"You'd better ask the boss (coach Chris Boyd) that," Barrett said when asked how many minutes he expected to play.

Barrett -- whose younger brother Jordie will make his Super Rugby debut at fullback -- said facing "the Japanese brand of rugby" would be a good challenge for his team.

And he said the Hurricanes have approached the game as they do every other, despite the odds being heavily stacked in favor of a big win for the visitors.

"Every side is different and has their own trends and you need to be aware of that and base your attack and defense on that," he explained. "We basically prepare the same way each week as your performance comes down to your preparation."

==Kyodo

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