The Hurricanes will be at home for the first time in three weeks and need to record a win on Sunday if they want to remain in the hunt with Super Rugby Aotearoa’s top two sides, the Blues and the Crusaders. Jason Holland has resisted putting out the same 23 for the second week in a row, however, fully aware that there’s plenty of weeks to play in the competition.
Co-captain Dane Coles, along with fellow forwards Fraser Armstrong and Reed Prinsep suffered minor injuries in the victory over the Chiefs and will sit out Sunday’s match. Tyro Asafo Aumua will take Coles’ spot in the hooking berth with Ben May joining him in the front row. Rookie Devan Flanders will slot in for Prinsep at blindside flanker.
In the backs, Fletcher Smith gets his first opportunity of the competition, taking over from Jackson Garden-Bachopp in the key playmaker role, while Vince Aso is reinstated at centre in place of Peter Umaga-Jensen.
Murphy Taramai joins the bench and has the opportunity to make his Hurricanes debut after representing the Blues for two seasons.
The Hurricanes have won the last four games at Sky Stadium against the Highlanders.
Sunday also doubles as ‘club night’, where players and fans are encouraged to wear their club jersey to the stadium – a tribute to the grassroots game.
Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Kobus van Wyk, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Fletcher Smith, TJ Perenara (c), Ardie Savea, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Scott Scrafton, James Blackwell, Tyrel Lomax, Asafo Aumua, Ben May. Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Alex Fidow, Vaea Fifita, Murphy Taramai, Jamie Booth, Billy Proctor, Wes Goosen.
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