Hurricanes make hooker crisis call to Rutledge

16:00, Mar 10 2013
Hurricanes v Blues
Julian Savea dives over for try during the Hurricanes opening loss to the Blues.
Hurricanes v Blues
TJ Perenara gets caught in a tackle during the Hurricanes' Super Rugby opener against the Blues.
Hurricanes v Blues
Hurricanes players stand dejected after losing to the Blues in their season opener.
Hurricanes v Blues
Jeremy Thrush brings down a lineout ball during the loss to the Blues.
TJ Perenara
TJ Perenara gets a pass away against the Queensland Reds.
Andre Taylor
Andre Taylor attempts to make a tackle on a Queensland Reds player.
Julian Savea
Julian Savea kicks ahead against the Queensland Reds.
Conrad Smith
Conrad Smith (left) and Faifili Levave during the game against the Queensland Reds.
Julian Savea
Julian Savea breaks the tackle of Dan Carter.
Chris Smylie
Chris Smylie flings the ball wide for the Hurricanes.
TJ Perenara
TJ Perenara is taken in a tackle by a Crusaders player.
Conrad Smith
Conrad Smith (left) and James Marshall celebrate after the Hurricanes one-point win over the Crusaders.
Hurricanes v Highlanders
TJ Perenara tries to break through the Highlanders' tackle during his sides round five win.
Hurricanes v Highlanders
Beauden Barrett offloads to a teammate during the Hurricanes' win over the Highlanders.
Hurricanes v Highlanders
Tusi Pisi makes a break for the Hurricanes during their win over the Highlanders.
Hurricanes 2013 Season
Alapati Leiua scores for the Hurricanes during their victory over the Southern Kings in Wellington.
Hurricanes 2013 Season
Ben May scores scores for the Hurricanes during their victory over the Southern Kings in Wellington.
Hurricanes 2013 Season
Jeremy Thrush of the Hurricanes is tackled by Wimpie van der Walt of the Kings during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Kings.
Hurricanes 2013 Season
Ben May of the Hurricanes tussles with David Bulbring of the Kings in a maul during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Kings.
Hurricanes 2013 Season
Conrad Smith of the Hurricanes beats the tackle of Sergeal Petersen of the Kings to score a try during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Kings.
Hurricanes 2013 season
Tim Bateman of the Hurricanes is tackled by Pat McCutcheon, left, and Adam Ashley-Cooper of the Waratahs during their round eight clash in Wellington.
Hurricanes season 2013
All Blacks wing Julian Savea is tackled by Adam Ashley-Cooper of the Waratahs.
Hurricanes season 2013
Julian Savea breaks the tackle of Sekope Kepu in the Hurricanes clash with the Waratahs in Wellington.
Hurricanes
Ardie Savea gets a real taste of Super Rugby against the Waratahs.
Hurricanes v Waratahs
Julian Savea breaks away for a try during the Hurricanes' win over the Waratahs.
Hurricanes v Waratahs
Reggie Goodes looks for the offload as he is tackled by a Waratahs player.
Hurricanes v Waratahs
Motu Matu'u dives over for a try against the Waratahs.
Hurricanes v Waratahs
TJ Perenara prepares to kick as the Hurricanes beat the Waratahs in Wellington.
Hurricanes v Blues
A dejected Hurricanes outfit walks off the field after their loss to the Blues at Eden Park.
Hurricanes v Blues
Julian (L) and Ardie Savea share a moment during the game against the Blues.
Hurricanes v Blues
Brad Shields tries to break through the Blues' defence.
Hurricanes v Blues
Motu Matu'u prepares to charge through Chris Noakes of the Blues.
Hurricanes gallery
Captain Hurricanes fires up the fans ahead of the home game against the Western Force.
Hurricanes gallery
Andre Taylor takes on the Force defence.
Hurricanes gallery
Julian Savea on the charge against the Western Force.
Hurricanes gallery
Jeremy Thrush (No 4) celebrates the victory over the Force at the final whistle.
Hurricanes v Stormers
Tusi Pisi tries to break through a Stormers tackle.
Hurricanes v Stormers
Matt Proctor scores on debut against the Stormers.
Hurricanes v Stormers
Victor Vito prepares for a tackle during the Hurricanes loss to the Stormers in Palmerston North.
Hurricanes v Stormers
Alapati Leiua in action against the Stormers.
Hurricanes v Stormers
TJ Perenara gets the offload away.
Hurricanes gallery
Ben May charges ahead against the Bulls in Pretoria.
Hurricanes gallery
Andre Taylor is wrapped up in the tackle.
Hurricanes gallery
TJ Perenara spins the ball wide.
Hurricanes gallery
Victor Vito (No 8) crunches Bulls opposite number Pierre Spies in a tackle.
Hurricanes v Cheetahs
Tim Bateman offloads during the Hurricanes win over the Cheetahs.
Hurricanes v Cheetahs
Try-scorer TJ Perenara makes a break against the Cheetahs.
Hurricanes v Cheetahs
Stand-in captain and try-scorer Victor Vito in action against the Cheetahs.
Hurricanes v Cheetahs
Beauden Barrett makes a pass as the Hurricanes beat the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Hurricanes players (left) lament their loss to the Chiefs.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Ray Lee-Lo is tackled Pauliasi Manu of the Chiefs.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett lays down the law to his players ahead of the clash with the Chiefs.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Jeffery Toomaga-Allen makes a break against the Chiefs.
Hurricanes season 2013
Faifili Levave of the Hurricanes makes little ground against the Brumbies' defence during their Round 16 Super Rugby clash.
Hurricanes season 2013
Alapati Leiua of the Hurricanes runs the ball against the Brumbies in Canberra.
Hurricanes season 2013
Hurricanes prop Ben Franks tackles Peter Kimlin of the Brumbies during their Round 16 Super Rugby clash in Canberra.
Hurricanes season 2013
Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg is swamped by the Hurricanes' defence.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
TJ Perenara dots down for the Hurricanes while Chiefs captain Craig Clarke protests.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Beaudeb Barrett gets a pass away against the Chiefs.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Jeremy Thrush climbs high to win a lineout against the Chiefs.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
The Hurricanes wait on Waikato Stadium for their opponents the Chiefs.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Julian Savea of the Hurricanes runs the ball during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Victor Vito of the Hurricanes makes a break during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
TJ Perenara of the Hurricanes passes during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Rey Lee-Lo of the Hurricanes fends Tamati Ellison of the Highlanders off during their round 19 Super Rugby match.
Hurricanes 2013
Julian Savea in action against the Crusaders.
Hurricanes 2013
Hurricanes players celebrate after scoring a try against the Crusaders.
Hurricanes 2013
Brad Shields goes in to score a try for the Hurricanes against the Crusaders.
Hurricanes 2013
Beauden Barrett gets a kick away against the Crusaders.

Southland's Jason Rutledge will join the Hurricanes today amid lingering concerns about the state of All Black hooker Dane Coles' ankle.

The Hurricanes' first-choice rakes Coles and Motu Matu'u are under injury clouds after the 29-28 win over the Crusaders.

X-rays yesterday cleared Coles of a break but he is set to have a second look today after limping off Westpac Stadium on Friday in the 42nd minute, in some distress.

Matu'u's shoulder injury appears less serious but the Hurricanes' coaching staff have quickly made contingency plans should the competition's most menacing tackler be ruled out.

Hawke's Bay's Ash Dixon will get the start against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday if the incumbents cannot recover in time.

Dixon and loosehead prop Reggie Goodes, who can also play hooker at a pinch, were both withdrawn from the Hurricanes development team's match against the Crusaders Knights on Saturday afternoon.

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And Hammett was quickly on the phone to the New Zealand Rugby Union, organising Rutledge's clearance and flights to Wellington this morning.

"Colsey seems unlikely, Motu's one of those, we shouldn't say 50-50, but we'll see how he gets through his week.

"He'll have to get through contact before he can be considered," Hammett said last night.

"Ash played well throughout the pre-season and Reg is an option. It's a fairly urgent process for us, given it's a Friday game."

Should Southland 35-year-old Rutledge play any part against the Highlanders, it would be an ironic one, considering he was passed over by the southern franchise he has played for 58 times since his debut in 2004.

Whoever gets tossed the No 2 jersey this week, they are unlikely to be in a vastly changed line up.

Hammett was chipper yesterday after reviewing his side's first win of the year and not just because other results seemed to help his cause.

The New Zealand conference points spread contracted, with losses to the Chiefs, Blues and Highlanders, suggesting a tight race lies ahead.

And despite being outscored four tries to two by the Crusaders, a second look convinced Hammett the home team dominated in the key areas.

Most pleasing was an 11-3 penalty count in the Hurricanes' favour, one that ultimately tipped the match their way.

Hammett put it down to a disciplined defence that denied Dan Carter the chance to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

"You can put that down to the discipline of the defensive system.

"Most penalties are not rolling away at the ruck or off side, so I'm happy with that," he said.

"We're not where we want to be defensively yet but the trends from my perspective are good."

Hammett said the loose passes on attack that gifted the Crusaders two of their tries remained an area that needed to improve in Dunedin. "When we held and built, we either got penalty points out of it or we put the Crusaders under extreme pressure," he said.

"We probably need to think a bit more in a test match mentality.

"It's great scoring tries and we want to be a team that does that but I'd rather be a team that wins than scores tries and loses."

If he's watched the Highlanders loss to the Cheetahs, Hammett's mood would have improved further, considering their frailties, particularly at the breakdown.

The Highlanders appeared to badly miss injured No 8 Nasi Manu in Invercargill and they also have issues at first five-eighth after Lima Sopoaga's unfortunate day, though Colin Slade looked assured in his return match.

The Dominion Post