Hurricanes have made two changes to their starting side to face the Highlanders in Friday night’s final round-robin Super Rugby Aotearoa match against the Highlanders at Sky Stadium.
Experienced wing Julian Savea returns to the run-on side while Billy Proctor is promoted from the bench after making a big impression as a replacement in the Hurricanes’ last-minute loss to confirmed finalists Chiefs last Friday.
The bench also have a settled look to it although there could be a debut for Wellington wing Pepesana Patafilo who has continued to work positively towards gaining the first opportunity in the Hurricanes jersey.
For Highlanders, Ethan de Groot claims the starting loosehead prop position and Ayden Johnstone rotates back to the bench. In the backs, Ngatungane Punivai is unavailable due to a reccurring leg injury but is replaced by Sam Gilbert on the right wing who is returning from a 9-month injury hiatus and has been selected following good club rugby performances. The only other change on the bench sees Hugh Renton come in for Marino Mikaele-Tu’u who is unavailable due to a lower leg injury.
The Highlanders will be hoping to continue their form from round 8 and carry it through this last round before heading into the Trans-Tasman competition where they will play the opening round at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin against the in-form Queensland Reds on Friday 14th May.
Hurricanes squad: 1: Xavier Numia 2: Dane Coles (C) 3: Tyrel Lomax 4: James Blackwell 5: Scott Scrafton 6: Reed Prinsep 7: Du’Plessis Kirifi 8: Devan Flanders 9: Luke Campbell 10: Ruben Love 11: Salesi Rayasi 12: Ngani Laumape 13: Billy Proctor 14: Julian Savea 15: Jordie Barrett
Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Fraser Armstrong, Alex Fidow, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Brayden Iose, Cam Roigard, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Pepesana Patafilo
Highlanders: 1. Ethan De Groot 2. Ash Dixon (cc) 3. Siate Tokolahi 4. Bryn Evans 5. Josh Dickson 6. Shannon Frizell 7. Billy Harmon 8. Kazuki Himeno 9. Aaron Smith (cc) 10. Mitch Hunt 11 Jona Nareki 12. Scott Gregory 13. Patelesio Tomkinson 14. Sam Gilbert 15. Josh Ioane
RESERVES P:16. Liam Coltman 17. Ayden Johnstone 18. Josh Hohneck 19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit 20. Hugh Renton 21. Kayne Hammington 22. Michael Collins 23. James Lentjes