New Zealand Kiwis coach Michael Maguire has confirmed that Jahrome Hughes' omission from the team sheet ahead of the nation's World Cup game against Jamaica is due to his continued recovery from injury.
Hughes is yet to appear in the World Cup after picking up a thigh strain in the days leading up to the opening clash against Lebanon – though Maguire has confirmed that he'll be back for the final group stage game against Ireland provided his recovery continues.
“He'll miss one more and be back the following week (against Ireland),” Maguire told the Rugby League World Cup Preview Show.
“It's actually just a real slight strain on his quad and it's his kicking leg. We've been smart with the way we're going about it, obviously he's a very key person for our team.”
Despite the Storm half's continued absence on the field, the Kiwis coach praised the playmaker for his influence on the side.
“When he's in team meetings he speaks up and you can see how he controls (the team) like he does at the Storm. He'll be an important one for us to have back.”
Though the Kiwis showed plenty of room for improvement in their at-times disjointed display against Lebanon, Maguire says the group is continuing to develop positively at training.
“We're here for a reason and they understand that,” Maguire said of his group.
“They're very keen and passionate about getting results, but I think training is very important as well – what we do at training.
“We had a really good session yesterday, we were a lot more fluid in the way we went about our training.”
Kieran Foran will take the halfback role against Jamaica, as he did for the contest with Lebanon.
The game between the Kiwis and Reggae Warriors kicks off at 5.30am (AEDT) on Sunday, October 23.