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Hurricanes Shorn Of Seven Choices, Brett Still In Limbo

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Hurricanes Shorn Of Seven Choices, Brett Still In Limbo

Wellington, Oct 20 NZPA - The Hurricanes have been shorn of seven potential choices after the provincial rugby transfers list was released.

Intense competition for places at the franchise has seen a number of players shift for more Super rugby playing time.

Of the 11 transfers revealed by the New Zealand Rugby Union yesterday, seven involve players who could have been or have been Hurricanes.

Chief among them are new All Black wing Zac Guildford who has transferred to the Crusaders and Wellington halfback Alby Mathewson to the Blues.

Guildford, from Hawke's Bay, has had limited game time for the Hurricanes in the past two seasons. Mathewson, an All Black during last year's end of year tour, has long served as No 2 to Piri Weepu.

Others on transfer are rising midfield back Robert Fruean who has transferred to the Crusaders, 2008 Hurricanes hooker Hika Elliot who will play a second season with the Chiefs next year, fullback Israel Dagg back at the Highlanders for another season as is utility back Michael Hobbs after spending this season with the Blues.

The seventh player is Taranaki lock Craig Clarke who will turn out for the Chiefs.

Fruean, 21, wants to play at centre but his path is solidly blocked by All Blacks Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith and Tamati Ellison playing for Wellington and the Hurricanes.

Fruean's move south was inevitable after Canterbury midfield stalwart Casey Laulala announced he will join the Cardiff Blues at the end of the Air NZ Cup.

On the positive side, the Hurricanes' locking stocks will be shored up by the arrival of Canterbury's Michael Paterson and Otago's Ross Kennedy.

Wellington's Jeremy Thrush is still four to six months from playing after a shoulder injury, Api Naikatini has a broken arm and Hawke's Bay All Black Bryn Evans missed the Air NZ Cup after back surgery.

Canterbury winger James Paterson will move south to link up with the Highlanders while North Harbour's Ben Afeaki has moved to the Chiefs.

The transfers allow the moving players to make themselves available for one of the five New Zealand Super 14 franchises outside their original provincial union base.

They can return to their home provincial union for the premier domestic competition.

However, Michael Paterson and Fruean are expected to stay put with Wellington and Canterbury respectively.

Canterbury first five-eighth Stephen Brett was a prominent absentee from the transfer list after being strongly linked with the Blues in recent weeks.

With Canterbury's current riches in first five-eighths in Dan Carter and the rising Colin Slade, Brett's chances of playing a full role in Super rugby with another franchise will be through the draft, and only if the Crusaders do not include him in their list of 24 protected players.


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