Coles doubtful for Lions opener, Milner-Skudder returns for Hurricanes


Dane Coles is a major doubt for New Zealand's opening Test against the British and Irish Lions as he continues to suffer with lingering concussion symptoms.

The Hurricanes hooker had been expected to start for the All Blacks in Auckland on June 24 but has not played since March after a head injury.

Coles had originally been pencilled in to play in Hurricanes' Super Rugby match with Western Force on Saturday to get more fitness, but he remains on the sidelines.

And Canes coach Chris Boyd revealed the 30-year-old is unlikely to face Chiefs on June 9, limiting his chances of being fully fit in time to face the Lions at Eden Park in the first of three Tests.

"I haven't had any discussion with anybody at home around where Dane is this week," he told a media conference.

"I think it would be unlikely he's going to get through enough [work] before next week for him to come into contention for selection.

"I might be surprised when I get home [from Australia], but the indications are at this stage that probably not."

There was better news for Nehe Milner-Skudder, though, after the flying winger was named on the bench to face the Force having recovered from his lengthy injury lay-off.

Milner-Skudder made his mark on the international scene with six tries during the Rugby World Cup in 2015, but missed last season with a shoulder injury and has since had a broken foot.

Should he come through the matches with the Force and Chiefs, the 26-year-old could be drafted into the All Blacks squad, adding even more attacking threat to Steve Hansen's side.

"He's looked a million dollars," said Boyd. "We've just finished training, his feet are as fast as ever.

"I don't know [if he'll earn an international call-up] and nor does anybody.

"The time that Nehe gets on the weekend may or may not have a bearing on that, but if he played 30 minutes for us and played unbelievably, then it might not be as much of a challenge [to make the squad]."