Blow to Canes as injury sidelines Vito
On a classic good news, bad news day at Hurricanes headquarters, news of Victor Vito's knee trouble cast the longest shadow.
The All Blacks' blindside flanker was ruled out for three to five weeks and could miss the rest of the Hurricanes' Super Rugby season, two crunch matches against the Crusaders and Chiefs as they sit sixth on the ladder.
Vito will not remember his 14th test fondly, after he was diagnosed with a grade two medial ligament strain in his left knee.
The recovery period makes Vito unlikely for the Hurricanes' next match, against the Crusaders in Christchurch on June 30, and doubtful for their regular season finale against the table-topping Chiefs at home on July 13.
The bye splits those two big matches.
"It's pretty gutting, but that's footy. I can only really take hold of the controllables and that is to look after my injury and have a really good attitude toward doing what I can to get back as soon as I can," Vito said.
The Chiefs' Liam Messam was called into the All Blacks squad in Christchurch, with Adam Thomson confirmed as Vito's replacement in Saturday's second test.
Otherwise the Hurricanes were buoyant, as winger Cory Jane and flanker Karl Lowe were declared likely starters for the Crusaders match by coach Mark Hammett, and fullback Andre Taylor and utility Alapati Leiua re-signed for two and one years respectively.
Hammett pointed out the Hurricanes were without Vito for their 42-18 win over the Sharks on April 6.
"We want our best players to play, week in, week out. He's an All Black and he had a great game the other night.
"But he missed the game against the Sharks and the game before that [a 47-38 loss to the Cheetahs] and the boys performed well," Hammett said.
"It's part of the game and it's something we need to deal with if it means he's out longer. Hopefully he's not, not just for our campaign but also for the All Blacks."
Hammett said Jane (ankle) and Lowe (knee) were both on track to return against the Crusaders.
"He [Jane] is going pretty well, and we're expecting he should be right by the Crusaders week, but that's not a definite, and Karl Lowe is similar."
Taylor, who's scored 10 tries this season, said he never contemplated going anywhere else, and it was an "easy decision" to re-sign.
He will play ITM Cup rugby for Taranaki this year, but said he was still undecided about his province for 2013.
"There's a few offers being thrown around, with Taranaki, Manawatu, Wellington but I haven't really decided. I don't want to rush anything."
The Hurricanes play an exhibition match against the Reds on the Sunshine Coast on Friday.
Julian Savea's younger brother, loose forward and New Zealand sevens international Ardie, was a notable selection while frontliners Ben May, Jason Eaton, Tim Bateman and Charlie Ngatai will be rested.
Hooker Dane Coles was bracketed on the bench, pending his judicial hearing today after the fight in the North-South match which saw four players cited.
"The process is there to deal with that and we're hoping it's not going to be much. It didn't seem like a lot," Hammett said.
Hurricanes: James Marshall, Richard Buckman/Waisake Naholo, Alapati Leiua, Jayden Hayward, Andre Taylor, Tusi Pisi, Chris Eaton, Mike Coman (c), Jack Lam, Brad Shields, James Broadhurst, Mark Reddish, Michael Bent, Motu Matu'u, Reg Goodes. Reserves: Dane Coles/David Hall, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen/Tristan Moran, Faifili Levave/Jeremy Thrush, Ardie Savea, Frae Wilson, Daniel Kirkpatrick, TJ Perenara.
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The Dominion Post