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Fruean ruled out with heart issues

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010    NZPA    Getty Images

Canterbury will begin the defence of their domestic crown with a new-look team featuring seven newcomers -- six of whom are on the bench.

Of concern is an irregular heart beat (arrhythmia) identified by medical staff when assessing Freuan on Monday. He has been observed at Christchurch Hospital and will continue to be monitored before returning to rugby.

Two years ago, soon after helping New Zealand win the under-19 world title, Fruean was diagnosed with rheumatic fever and a life-threatening heart condition. He had a new heart valve attached that enabled him to continue breathing and, miraculously, return to playing rugby.

Fruean's absence has forced a backline shuffle that sees Ryan Crotty and Stephen Brett start out one place wider than usual at centre and second five-eighth. Colin Slade will wear No 10.

The debut starter is wing Patrick Osborne while newcomers on the bench are hooker Paul Ngauamo, lock Rob Verbakel, flanker Brendon O'Connor, halfback Matt George, midfielder Robbie Flynn and wing Telusa Veainu.

Canterbury are missing seven players on All Blacks duty, along with an injured group -- Fruean, No 8 Nasi Manu (knee), halfback Andy Ellis (toe), midfield back Adam Whitelock (concussion) and midfield backs Sonny Bill Williams (knee) and Adam Whitelock (concussion).
They have started each of the last two seasons with opening-round losses before going on to claim the provincial crown.

Team: Sean Maitland, Patrick Osborne, Ryan Crotty, Stephen Brett, Tu Umaga-Marshall, Colin Slade, Willi Heinz, Ash Parker, George Whitelock (captain), Matt Todd, Isaac Ross, Luke Romano, Pete Borlase, Steve Fualau, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Paul Ngauamo, Andrew Olorenshaw, Rob Verbakel, Brendon O'Connor, Matt George, Robbie Flynn, Telusa Veainu