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All Black prop returns as rest week forces changes for Hurricanes

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Former All Black prop Owen Franks will return to the Hurricanes starting side for their clash with Moana Pasifika at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night as they look to continue their strong start the season.

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The 35-year-old started against the Reds in round one for his new club before returning to the bench against the Rebels in round two.

He will have the chance to start again as All Blacks resting protocols see Tyrel Lomax, Dane Coles and Jordie Barrett sit out the trip to Auckland.

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Packing down alongside Franks in the front row will be Xavier Numia and Asafo Aumua, who will bring up his 50th cap for the Hurricanes.

Dominic Bird gets a start in the second row and will partner Isaia Walker-Leawere at lock, while James Blackwell gets a rest week.

Young gun Peter Lakai returns to the starting side at openside after impressing against the Blues in his last start and will join Devan Flanders and Ardie Savea as the loose forward trio. Regular starting openside Du’Plessis Kirifi has been afforded a week off.

Head coach Jason Holland said that they are prioritising the freshness of the squad by allowing non-All Blacks to take rest as well.

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“A priority for us is keeping everyone on top of their game and 100% ready to go,” Holland explained.

“We’ve got good options there in the locks and loosies, so Blackwell and Kirifi are having a week off.

“They’re all playing well, so we are quite happy to mix and match at the moment, to keep that competition going, and keep the guys as fresh as possible at the backend of this eight-week block.”

In the backline Cam Roigard and Brett Cameron will get another start as the halves pair, while 2022’s breakout star Bailyn Sullivan gets his first start of the year at centre.

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Billy Proctor moves inside one position into the No 12 jersey to partner Sullivan in the midfield.

After a double last week as a Hurricanes debutant, Kini Naholo makes a switch to the right wing while Salesi Rayasi returns to the starting side on the left. All Black Julian Savea moves to bench in the utility back role.

Two players are in line for potential debuts, Waikato hooker Hame Faiva, and Counties first five-eighth Riley Hohepa, have been named on the bench.

Hohepa comes into the side after Aidan Morgan suffered a concussion against the Waratahs in Wellington late in the game.

“Hame has been with us for a few months as a replacement player and he’s been brilliant in our environment. He’s been in Europe playing for a while, so has the experience, and has been working hard so he gets his opportunity to play,” Holland said.

“With Aidan’s concussion last week, Riley Hohepa will also look to debut off the bench. He’s got a good rugby brain and knows how to run our games, so he’s been a good addition to our environment.

“Moana Pasifika will be a good challenge. We’ve seen what happened last year when we didn’t get things right. We’re pretty motivated for this one, we need to get the small parts of our game right, so that we get the results we want.”

Hurricanes named to take on Moana Pasifika:

1. Xavier Numia
2. Asafo Aumua **
3. Owen Franks
4. Dominic Bird
5. Isaia Walker-Leawere
6. Devan Flanders
7. Peter Lakai
8. Ardie Savea ©
9. Cameron Roigard
10. Brett Cameron
11. Salesi Rayasi
12. Billy Proctor
13. Bailyn Sullivan
14. Kini Naholo
15. Josh Moorby

Reserves
16. Hame Faiva *
17. Tevita Mafileo
18. Pasilio Tosi
19. TK Howden
20. Brayden Iose
21. Jamie Booth
22. Riley Hohepa *
23. Julian Savea

*Denotes debut
**Denotes 50th Hurricanes match

Unavailable for selection: Ruben Love, Caleb Delany, Tyler Laubscher, Reed Prinsep, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Justin Sangster, TJ Perenara, Jacob Devery, Aidan Morgan.

All Black rest: Dane Coles, Tyrel Lomax, Jordie Barrett

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