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    Smith fit, Coles still sidelined

    2017-07-10 18:53

    Cape Town - Fullback Ben Smith is fit to return to action for the Highlanders, but Hurricanes hooker Dane Coles will spend two more weeks on the sidelines.

    That was the word from All Blacks coach Steve Hansen on two of his star players, who have missed a large chunk of the season due to injury. 

    Smith was declared fit to return to action for the Highlanders after his concussion symptoms were re-diagnosed as an inner ear problem. 

    But Coles, who has been sidelined for more than four months, will miss the Hurricanes' final league fixture as well as their quarter-final clash and is only due to return if the Super Rugby champions reach the semi-finals.

    "I don't think he'll make their quarter-final but if they make the semi-finals I think he'll be right from a conditioning point of view," Hansen told Stuff.

    "He had so much time off. It's totally different from having that time off at the end of the year because you are still active. He had a whole period - three or four months - where he didn't do anything so we've got to graduate him back into training and full contact.

    "They've just got to be sensible about that. Mentally he's a tough kid and he'd play tomorrow."

    The All Blacks and Hurricanes are in agreement regarding the best way for Coles to return.

    "Between the two operations there's a good plan in place," added Hansen.

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