Hooker, halfback, prop needed for Hurricanes

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 27/10/2012

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Mark Hammett will take the full complement of 28 protected players into this week's Super Rugby draft.

And in a sign of how settled the franchise is, only five players are definitely not returning next season, a contrast to the 13 who were dumped after last year's campaign.

Hammett has the option of picking up a maximum of four players in the draft which will run over Monday and Tuesday before the official Super Rugby squads are announced on Wednesday.

Hammett and assistant Alama Ieremia were reluctant to talk ahead of a draft process that is effectively decided before it begins.

But a glance through the Hurricanes confirmed signings suggests they will be looking to add a third hooker and halfback, a fifth prop and, possibly, a fourth specialist lock.

All four of those could potentially come from players from last season, with lock Mark Reddish, hooker David Hall, prop Tristan Moran and halfback Chris Eaton not protected.

Wellington No 9 Frae Wilson has put in a particularly strong challenge during the NPC.

And with Taranaki's Blade Thomson graduating from the wider training group, and former All Black Ross Filipo in the draft, Reddish's place may come under pressure.

It's unclear how far afield Hammett has cast his net in searching for extra front-rowers but Wellington's Solomona Sakalia and Eric Sione are among the promising youngsters on his patch.

Tim Bateman's strong form at first five-eighth for the Lions will have eased the search for an experienced backup pivot to Beauden Barrett and Taranaki's James Marshall.

Last year's backup No 10s Tusi Pisi (Japan) and Dan Kirkpatrick (France) are not returning.

Of the players to leave last year, midfielder Charlie Ngatai has been replaced by Counties Manukau's Rey Lee-Lo, prop Michael Bent by Crusader Ben Franks, and Kirkpatrick by Marshall.

Wellington openside Ardie Savea is the other new signing announced.

Hurricanes at a glance: 

Confirmed signings: Andre Taylor, Richard Buckman, Julian Savea, Cory Jane, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith*, Rey Lee-Lo, Tim Bateman, Beauden Barrett, James Marshall, T J Perenara, Chris Smylie, Victor Vito*, Karl Lowe, Jack Lam, Faifili Levave, Brad Shields, Ardie Savea, Blade Thomson, Jeremy Thrush, James Broadhurst, Jason Eaton, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Reggie Goodes, Ben Franks, Ben May, Dane Coles, Motu Matu'u. In: Ardie Savea (Wellington), Lee-Lo (Counties Manukau), Franks (Crusaders), Marshall (Taranaki), Thomson (Taranaki). Out: Michael Bent (Ireland), Jayden Hayward (Force), Daniel Kirkpatrick (France), Charlie Ngatai (Chiefs), Tusi Pisi (Suntory).

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Unconfirmed: Mark Reddish, Chris Eaton, Tristan Moran, David Hall.

*Vito and Smith have yet to finalise negotiations with the New Zealand Rugby Union, but are expected to re-sign 

- The Dominion Post

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