The Hurricanes have made just two changes to their starting side to face the Highlanders at Sky Stadium in Wellington on Friday.
Former All Blacks wing Julian Savea returns to the right wing in place of Wes Goosen after missing out on last week’s last-gasp 26-24 defeat at the hands of Damian McKenzie and the Chiefs in Hamilton.
The only other alteration comes in the midfield, where one-test All Blacks centre Peter Umaga-Jensen has swapped onto the bench to hand impressive youngster Billy Proctor a starting berth in the No. 13 jersey.
Umaga-Jensen is one of three new faces in the reserves, as loosehead prop Fraser Armstrong replaces Pouri Rakete-Stones, while wing Pepesana Patafilo is in line his Super Rugby Aotearoa debut as he slots in for lock Liam Mitchell on the pine.
Although the match acts as a dead-rubber for the Hurricanes, who can’t finish any higher than last place, head coach Jason Holland said he expects his side to step up to give their fans something to cheer about in their final domestic clash.
“It’s something we have talked about, to put on a performance our loyal fans and members will be really proud of, and that’s a key motivation for us,” he said in a statement.
“We have been really close in a number of games this season and we feel we are not far away. There’s no doubt the Highlanders will feel exactly the same and the way the two sides play, it’s going to be a match not short of opportunities given the positive intent we have.”
The Hurricanes will have a bye next week as the Crusaders and Chiefs contest the Super Rugby Aotearoa final in Christchurch before Super Rugby Trans-Tasman kicks-off the following week.
Kick-off for Friday’s match is scheduled for 7:05pm NZT.
Hurricanes team to face Highlanders on Friday
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
16. Asafo Aumua
17. Fraser Armstrong
18. Alex Fidow
19. Isaia Walker-Leawere
20. Braydon Iose
21. Cam Roigard
22. Peter Umaga-Jensen
23. Pepesano Patafilo
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