The curious case of Cory Jane has added another twist to the Hurricanes stuttering season.
The All Black wing revealed yesterday he had been dropped from the side that lost 35-31 to the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday.
Jane was widely reported last week as being "unavailable" after rolling an ankle in training, but the 31-year-old outside back said he had already missed out on the matchday 23.
"Last week even though I hurt myself I wasn't going to play anyway," Jane said. "I just have to keep working hard and train well so I can get picked."
That means the 45-test veteran was overlooked for five other outside backs in wings Julian Savea and Alapati Leiua, fullback Marty Banks and reserves Matt Proctor and Andre Taylor.
Jane did not play during the 60-27 win over the Cheetahs the previous week due to a broken nose and, despite being fully fit, could miss out again when the team is picked to play the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday.
"I hope [I'll get picked]. We'll see how training goes today. Obviously we've got a few days to go. I've got a little tweak of the ankle so we'll see what happens and hopefully they'll pick me so I can play some rugby," Jane said.
"Everyone's playing well so if it's best for the team me getting dropped then it is what it is. I just have to keep working hard. We need to play well as a team.
"It's all good one or two people standing out and doing well, but if we keep losing it doesn't really matter, does it. We need to address that as a team and hopefully play better."
Jane seemed to be in reasonable form over the opening three weeks before being part of the ugly loss to the Brumbies.
With just one win from five matches, it could be argued the Hurricanes should be picking their senior All Blacks regardless of form, but backs coach Alama Ieremia confirmed Jane was no certainty.
"It's a selection headache this week. We'll have a look and see if Cory's available. It's one of those good headaches to have," he said. "Our wings are playing well, Julian and Alapati . . . and we also have Matty Proctor there as well. These are the good headaches we have as coaches.
"Selection-wise we have to make sure we pick the best team for the weekend. Obviously form comes [into that] and the opposition will dictate some of that too. Those are the discussions we'll have today and the injury situations we'll have a look at too," Ieremia said.
The Hurricanes selections have been a hot topic this season, firstly for the omission of fringe All Blacks openside Ardie Savea over the opening weeks, then for the dropping of halfback TJ Perenara two weeks ago. Both played poorly in Dunedin.
But Taylor's brilliant return off the bench against the Highlanders also suggests the coaches missed a trick in leaving him out completely over the opening four weeks when Banks and James Marshall were the preferred fullbacks.
Ieremia said Taylor had been a "mixture" during the pre-season and he had missed out initially due to the need for specialist cover at first five-eighth in South Africa.
He had played well for the development side and taken his chances against the Highlanders.
Whoever gets the nod this week, Ieremia expects them to produce a more accurate performance than was on display in Dunedin.
"What stands out was pretty basic. It was schoolboy rugby, the first quarter we just weren't in the game," he said. "Our kicking let us down, our high ball, our diffusion of their kicks was critical in what came out of that in terms of penalties."
Second five-eighth Tim Bateman is expected to be available after recovering from a knee injury.
Flanker Jack Lam, who suffered a concussion during the Highlanders match, has passed psychometric testing and was also expected to be available.
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