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Hurricanes name high-powered bench in team to play the Crusaders

By Ben Smith
Du’Plessis Kirifi and Xavier Numia of the Hurricanes pose after the round three Super Rugby Pacific match between Hurricanes and Blues at Sky Stadium, on March 09, 2024, in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The Hurricanes have named a strong side as they look to continue their undefeated start to the season and back-to-back wins over the Crusaders for the first time since 2018.

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The two teams are at complete opposite ends of the table but winning in Christchurch against the Crusaders is a rarity for the Hurricanes, their last one being in 2020 during Super Rugby Aotearoa.

The Crusaders will have to shut down the the best attack in the competition with the Hurricanes averaging 37 points a game and 5.3 tries, powered by an in-form fullback Ruben Love who logged three try assists last week.

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The Hurricanes backline is unchanged after their impressive showing against the Blues, Love again will start at fullback with Kini Naholo and Josh Moorby on each wing.

Riley Higgins will start again at No 12 in Jordie Barrett’s absence alongside Billy Proctor. On the bench Peter Umaga-Jensen and Salesi Rayasi have been named as outside back cover.

Former Crusader Brett Cameron returns to play his old club in the No 10 jersey next to halves partner Cam Roigard.

The forwards have been boosted by Devan Flanders and Du’Plessis Kirifi’s returns from injury, with Flanders starting at blindside while Kirifi will be used from the bench. The impressive TK Howden drops out of the gameday squad due to a foot injury.

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Xavier Numia also returns to the starting side forming one of the best front rows in the competition alongside Xavier Numia and Tyrel Lomax.

“We’re obviously delighted with the start we’ve made. If you had asked us four weeks ago that we would have three wins in a row we would have taken it. But we’re also being realistic that there’s a long way to go and we have to keep improving as the competition goes on because other teams will,” head coach Clark Laidlaw said.

“We felt we handled the Blues physicality really well and created pressure through our kicking game. Also, our scrum was going good for most part of the game so that allowed us to attack well and keep the Blues at arm’s length, so we’re very happy with where we’re at.

“We’re under no illusions what the Crusaders can do. We know what’s coming and how tough it’s going to be. They’re full of good players and coaches and we know how excited they will be to get their season back on track. We are well aware of what we’re walking into.”

Hurricanes team to play the Crusaders

1. Xavier Numia
2. Asafo Aumua (cc)
3. Tyrel Lomax
4. James Tucker
5. Isaia Walker-Leawere
6. Devan Flanders
7. Peter Lakai
8. Brayden Iose
9. Cam Roigard
10. Brett Cameron
11. Kini Naholo
12. Riley Higgins
13. Billy Proctor
14. Josh Moorby
15. Ruben Love

Replacements

16. James O’Reilly
17. Pouri Rakete-Stones
18. Pasilio Tosi
19. Justin Sangster
20. Du’Plessis Kirifi
21. TJ Perenara
22. Peter Umaga-Jensen
23. Salesi Rayasi

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