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Hurricanes make 10 changes in starting XV for Drua

By Ned Lester
Kini Naholo of the Hurricanes. Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

The Hurricanes take their perfect record and the confidence of a big win over the Chiefs to Suva in round nine, taking on a Drua team undefeated at home in 2024.

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Head coach Clark Laidlaw has opted to make 10 changes to the starting XV for the game, with eight changes in personnel and changes in position for Kini Naholo and Josh Moorby.

Naholo has switched to the right wing, with Moorby stepping back to fullback. Salesi Rayasi is set to feature in the No. 11 jersey.

In the tight five, All Black prop Tyrel Lomax will be rested, making way for debutant prop Siale Lauaki, who has been named to feature off the bench. A second debut in the contest can be found in the starting XV, with lock Ben Grant named in the No. 4 jersey.

Asafo Aumua has made way for James O’Reilly at hooker, joining front-row partner Xavier Numia and Lauaki on the bench. Tevita Mafileo and Pasilio Tosi will start in the front row.

Flanker Duplessis Kirifi has been named for a hard-earned start in his familiar openside flanker role, with Peter Lakai landing a bench role in Suva.

Also rested for the contest is first five-eighth Brett Cameron, meaning Aidan Morgan lands an opportunity at 10. The familiar midfield of Jordie Barrett and Billy Proctor has been retained.

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“We’re looking forward to heading over to Suva and getting into our work,” Laidlaw said. “Last week was great for us to be able to get out in front of our home fans, and this week is an exciting challenge to head over to and take on the Drua. We know the challenge that awaits us and how strong they are at home in front of a passionate crowd.”

“It’s pleasing to see another couple of our squad set to make their debuts, with Ben Grant and Siale Lauaki coming into the side. Siale is a product of our Hurricanes development pathway and has a big future with our club after an outstanding U20 World Cup in 2023.”

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Hurricanes team to face the Fijian Drua

1.        Tevita Mafileo
2.        James O’Reilly
3.        Pasilio Tosi
4.        Ben Grant*
5.        Isaia Walker-Leawere
6.        Brad Shields (Captain)
7.        Du’Plessis Kirifi
8         Devan Flanders
9.        TJ Perenara
10.      Aidan Morgan
11.      Salesi Rayasi
12.      Jordie Barrett
13.      Billy Proctor
14.      Kini Naholo
15.      Josh Moorby

Reserves

16.      Asafo Aumua
17.      Xavier Numia
18.      Siale Lauaki*
19.      Caleb Delany
20.     Peter Lakai
21.      Richard Judd
22.      Ruben Love
23.      Bailyn Sullivan

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Jon 23 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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