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Hurricanes spring surprises in the forwards for Brumbies rematch

By Tom Vinicombe
Owen Franks. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The Hurricanes will look to challenge the Brumbies up front this weekend in Canberra with coach Jason Holland naming a side capable of footing it with the best of the best at the set-piece and the breakdown.

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The returns of Ardie Savea and Jordie Barrett to the run-on side will be a huge boost for the Hurricanes – who suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of the Western Force last weekend – but it’s perhaps the selections of prop Owen Franks and flanker Blake Gibson that add the most intrigue to Saturday evening’s match.

All Black Tyrel Lomax has been the first-choice tighthead for much of the Super Rugby Pacific season but after getting outplayed and outsmarted by Waratahs counterpart Angus Bell three weeks ago, Holland has evidently opted to start with his strongest scrummager against a formidable Brumbies pack, and that means Franks – with over 150 Super Rugby caps and 100 tests to his name – gets the nod in the No 3 jersey.

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Similarly, specialist openside flanker Gibson will run out in the No 6 jersey – alongside fellow exponents of the breakdown steal Du’Plessis Kirifi and Ardie Savea – with an eye to taking on the Brumbies at the tackle area.

Altogether, Holland has made six personnel changes to the starting line-up following last weekend’s match.

Dane Coles and Franks will be joined in the front row by Tevita Mafileo, in what will be just his second start of the campaign, while there’s plenty of X-factor on the bench in the form of Asafo Aumua, Pouri Rakete-Stones and Tyrel Lomax.

James Blackwell will make his 12th appearance of the year in the run-on side in the No 4 jersey and will partner the returning Isaia Walker-Leawere while utility forward Caleb Delany will cover the second row via the reserves.

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Gibson, Kirifi and Savea form a strong loose forward trio with wrecking ball Brayden Iose expected to add impact later in the match.

The well-oiled combination of TJ Perenara and Aidan Morgan will suit up for the fourth week in a row in the halves, with Jamie Booth and Ruben Love providing cover on the bench, while Jordie Barrett takes over in the No 12 jersey and Billy Proctor earns a start at outside centre in place of the unavailable Bailyn Sullivan.

In the back three, Julian Savea comes into the starting side in place of Wes Goosen, who drops to the bench, while Salesi Rayasi and Josh Moorby hold their spots from last week.

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The Hurricanes were well and truly dealt to by the Brumbies earlier in the year, with the Brumbies leading for all but four minutes of their 42-25 victory over the Wellingtonians.

Saturday night’s quarter-final – the last of the weekend – is set to kick off at 7:45pm AEST from GIO Stadium in Canberra.

Hurricanes: Josh Moorby, Julian Savea, Billy Proctor, Jordie Barrett, Salesi Rayasi, Aidan Morgan, TJ Perenara, Ardie Savea, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Blake Gibson, Isaia Walker-Leawere, James Blackwell, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Tevita Mafileo. Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Tyrel Lomax, Caleb Delany, Brayden Iose, Jamie Booth, Ruben Love, Wes Goosen.

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