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Five All Blacks return for Hurricanes’ derby with Blues

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

It doesn’t get much bigger than this for the Hurricanes. With the race for a spot in the top four set to come down to the wire, they simply need to win to beat the Blues in Auckland this weekend.

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Coach Jason Holland has made four changes to his starting side, including the inclusion of All Black Asafo Aumua at hooker.

Aumua returns from injury to start in the No. 2 shirt, and will pack down in the front row alongside Xavier Numia and Tyrel Lomax – with Lomax also returning from his mandatory All Blacks rest.

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The rest of the forward pack is relatively familiar for the Hurricanes, except for a change at blindside. Caleb Delany has been promoted from the bench and will start at blindside flanker.

Captain Ardie Savea is also back for the Hurricanes this week after being rested for last weekend’s clash with the ladder-leading Chiefs in Hamilton.

As for the backline, rising stars Cam Roigard and Aidan Morgan will continue to develop their combination in the halves.

The pair will look to provide quality ball to a star-studded backline, which includes All Black Jordie Barrett at inside centre.

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Like Tyrel Lomax and Ardie Savea, Barrett is also set to return this week after being rested in round 13. Barrett will link up with the reliable Billy Proctor in the midfield.

Rampaging wingers Kini Naholo and Julian Savea take their spots in the run-on side, and Josh Moorby is the final piece of the Hurricanes’ starting puzzle – named to start at fullback for this “vital” clash.

“At this stage of the season, every game is vital, and this is definitely the case in Auckland this weekend,” coach Jason Holland said in a statement.

“Small margins are massive, and the team that makes the least mistakes and takes their opportunities is the team that wins these massive knockout games, so we are really focused on that.

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“We know what a massive challenge it is to go to Eden Park and come away with a win, especially with this Blues side who have All Blacks all over the field and are playing a good brand of rugby.

“It’s going to be a tough game but we’re training well and feeling confidence about where we are at.”

On the bench, the Hurricanes have named flyhalf Brett Cameron. Following a sensational debut for the Canes earlier this season, the one-Test All Black showed plenty of promise in a few appearances.

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But then disaster struck. The playmaker sustained an injury, and has missed a majority of the campaign.

Including Aumua Lomax, Savea and Barrett, Cameron is the fifth All Black to return for the Hurricanes in round 14.

“It’s an awesome effort from the medical team and from BC (Brett Cameron) himself in getting him back. With the initial prognoses, we weren’t sure we would be getting him back at all this season,” Holland added.

“Everyone has worked hard to get him here, so it’s a pretty big success story as far as we’re concerned.

“He’s training well, and we’re looking forward to him getting back onto the park.”

The New Zealand derby between the Blues and Hurricanes at Eden Park is set to get underway at 7.05pm NZST on Saturday.

Hurricanes team to take on Blues

  1. Xavier Numia
  2. Asafo Aumua
  3. Tyrel Lomax
  4. James Blackwell
  5. Isaia Walker-Leawere
  6. Caleb Delany
  7. Du’Plessis Kirifi
  8. Ardie Savea (c)
  9. Cam Roigard
  10. Aidan Morgan
  11. Kini Naholo
  12. Jordie Barrett
  13. Billy Proctor
  14. Julian Savea
  15. Josh Moorby

Replacements:

  1. Hame Faiva
  2. Tevita Mafileo
  3. Owen Franks
  4. Justin Sangster
  5. Brayden Iose
  6. Jamie Booth
  7. Brett Cameron
  8. Salesi Rayasi

Unavailable for selection: Ruben Love, Tyler Laubscher, Reed Prinsep, TJ Perenara, Bailyn Sullivan, Dane Coles, Devan Flanders

Unavailable dur to New Zealand Under-20s: Siale Lauaki, Peter Lakai, Cooper Flanders, Jordi Viljoen, Hunter Morrison, Harry Godfrey

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