Savea underwent surgery late last year to mend a knee injury sustained in the All Blacks’ World Cup semi-final defeat to England, and didn’t play at all in Super Rugby in its original format earlier this year.
However, after seven months out of action, the 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year nominee will return for the Hurricanes after being named on their bench’s for this weekend’s clash in Auckland.
“Ardie has progressed well and it’s awesome to see him excited about getting back out there,” Hurricanes head coach Jason Holland said.
The naming of Savea will be savoured by the Hurricanes, who will be without key fullback Jordie Barrett after he succumbed to a shoulder injury earlier in the week.
It means the 23-year-old won’t square off against older brother Beauden in what will be his first appearance for the Blues since his high-profile transfer from the Hurricanes last year.
TJ Perenara will start at halfback, and he’ll be joined in the starting lineup by fellow co-captain Dane Coles, who will don the No. 2 jersey.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 11, 2020
In the reserves, Asafo Aumua and Vaea Fifita add to the All Blacks contingent on the pine, while only two backs – Jamie Booth and Billy Proctor – have been named to accomodate Tevita Mafielo, Alex Fidow and Isaia Walker-Leawere.
Lack of discipline was a significant factor in the Hurricanes’ 24-15 defeat to the Blues in Wellington three months ago, with the hosts copping two yellow cards and a red card, reducing them to just 12 players at one point in the match.
Holland is hopeful that his side can keep their temperament in front of an Auckland crowd that is expected to exceed 37,500 in capacity in two days’ time.
“The team that wins the physical battle and is the most disciplined in the heat of the battle will go a long way to getting a result,” he said.
Kick-off for Sunday’s encounter is scheduled for 3:35pm NZT.
The Hurricanes team to face the Blues in Auckland is:
15) Chase Tiatia
14) Wes Goosen
13) Vince Aso
12) Ngani Laumape
11) Ben Lam
10) Jackson Garden-Bachop
9) TJ Perenara [CC]
8) Gareth Evans
7) Du’Plessis Kirifi
6) Reed Prinsep
5) Scott Scrafton
4) James Blackwell
3) Tyrel Lomax
2) Dane Coles [CC]
1) Fraser Armstrong
16) Asafo Aumua
17) Tevita Mafileo
18) Alex Fidow
19) Isaia Walker-Leawere
20) Vaea Fifita
21) Ardie Savea
22) Jamie Booth
23) Billy Proctor
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