Victor Vito has compounded a barely believable week for the Hurricanes with news he will be sidelined for six weeks with a knee injury.
The big No 8 will join Brad Shields, Tim Bateman and Matt Proctor on the sidelines after scans last night revealed he has damaged his posterior cruciate ligament.
Vito suffered the injury during training in Porirua yesterday shortly after second five-eighth Bateman had been carried off with a medial collateral ligament injury that will sideline him for up to four weeks.
Loose forward Shields (6-8 weeks) and wing Proctor (2-4 weeks) injured their knee and ankle respectively during a preseason match against the Melbourne Rebels in Geelong last weekend.
Vito had pulled out of training early yesterday to ice his knee, but the extent of the injury will be a surprise after what was initially believed to be nothing more than a knock.
His absence creates a dilemma at loose forward where coach Mark Hammett is suddenly down to his third choice No 8 for tomorrow's final preseason match against the Crusaders in Levin.
Faifili Levave and Blade Thomson are the next cabs off the rank, while Ardie Savea is also capable of playing off the back of the scrum.
The Hurricanes head to South Africa on Saturday in what is suddenly shaping as a major test of the squad's depth, particularly in the loose forwards.
Wider training group member Adam Hill is suddenly in line for a Super Rugby start while loose forward Callum Gibbins may also find himself boarding the team's flight to Durban on Saturday.
As well as Vito, Shields, Bateman and Proctor, prop Reggie Goodes is out with a toe injury.
Not picking up any more injuries rather than any fierce competition for places may now become a major factor against the Crusaders.
- The Dominion Post
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