The Hurricanes have suffered a massive injury blow ahead of the second match of their tour in Durban, with All Black winger Hosea Gear ruled out for probably the remainder of the Super 14 season. While Andy Ellis will also miss the Crusaders match against the Bulls.
Rugbyheaven NZ reports that Gear badly injured his knee in the weekend’s 38-32 victory over the Lions in Johannesburg and is expected to be sidelined for up to two months.
Prop John Schwalger also limped off during the win, but he has responded well to treatment and should be available for selection against the Sharks.
Gear might be fit again around semifinal time, but it’s doubtful he’d be able to re-enter the selection picture after such a long payoff.
The bad news didn’t end there for Colin Cooper’s side who thrust their way up to fifth on the table with the bonus point win in Jo’burg, with flanker Scott Waldrom also ruled out for the next fortnight with an abdominal muscle strain suffered in training.
Both Gear and Waldrom are returning to New Zealand to begin their rehabilitation. No replacements have been called for at this stage.
Gear sustained a posterior cruciate ligament injury to his left knee, with Canes officials estimating he will need six to eight weeks to rehabilitate it. There are seven weeks left in the round-robin.
The loss of the 25-year-old is a dreadful blow to the Canes who got their campaign right back on track by prevailing in that nine-try thriller against the Lions.
The big wing has shown glimpses of the form that saw him rewarded with an All Black tour spot at the end of last year and was the Hurricanes’ equal top try-scorer with three touchdowns.
Fortunately for Cooper he still has a number of options to call on, including Hawke’s Bay wing Zac Guildford and former Auckland speedster Davis Smith. He also has the option of using utilities Cory Jane (who is fit again), Tamati Ellison or Ma’a Nonu out there, depending on his preferences.
Waldrom is expected to be right for the match against the Stormers in Wellington on April 18.
The Hurricanes’ match early Sunday (NZ time) against the table-topping Sharks is expected to be one of the feature clashes of the eighth round of Super 14 action.
The John Plumtree-coached Sharks have lost just once in 2009 and have settled in now for an ominous long home stand to finish the season.
But the Canes have beaten the South Africans in three of their five previous matches in Durban and would dearly love to lift that total to four — a result that would really tighten things up at the top of the table.
Meanwhile, Crusaders halfback Andy Ellis has been ruled out of Friday’s clash against the Bulls, but has been cleared of any serious damage to his ribs.
Ellis had an X-ray yesterday after damaging his ribs in the match against the Stormers at AMI Stadium on Saturday night.
The X-ray showed no new fractures and revealed that previous injuries (picked up in July while playing for Canterbury, and November while playing for the All Blacks in UK) were well-healed.
However, the Crusaders have said they won’t take any chances and Ellis will not play against the Bulls at AMI Stadium on Friday night. His place is likely to be taken by Kahn Fotuali’i, who replaced Ellis at halftime on Saturday night.Tweet