Two seasons on from Beauden Barrett’s departure, the Hurricanes are still struggling to replace the mercurial first five. While Jackson Garden-Bachop has clearly been identified as the long term successor to Barrett, an injury suffered against the Crusaders means that the Hurricanes have had to look elsewhere for five-eighths cover for their match with the Chiefs on Saturday.
That cover comes in the form of former Chiefs and Blues utility back Orbyn Leger, who was signed up as an injury replacement after Simon Hickey went down in the pre-season.
Leger – who wore No 10 for the Chiefs in their opening game of the 2019 campaign – will partner Luke Campbell in the halves, who has taken over from Jonathan Taumateine.
Coach Jason Holland has made a number of other changes to a side chasing its first win of the season.
Salesi Rayasi, last year’s top try-scorer in the Mitre 10 Cup, has earned a start on the left wing. Julian Savea has shifted to the right, which sees Wes Goosen drop to the bench.
Billy Proctor and Peter Umaga-Jensen have swapped places, with Proctor taking over the No 13 jersey and one-cap Umaga-Jensen named in the reserves.
In the forwards, an injury to in-form hooker Asafo Aumua has seen Ricky Riccitelli slot in at No 2. Wellington’s James O’Reilly will cover from the bench in the continued absence of Dane Coles.
The only other change also comes in the front row, with Xavier Numia handed his first start of the season, ahead of Fraser Armstrong.
This week’s changes mean that just four players – Tyrel Lomax, James Blackwell, Ngani Laumape and Jordie Barrett – will have been named to start in the same jersey in all three of the Hurricanes’ fixtures to date.
The Savea brothers will also have started in all three matches, but Ardie was named at No 7 for the opening game of the campaign while Julian’s first two matches were on the left wing.
Both the Hurricanes and the Chiefs will be desperate to earn their first wins of the competition on Saturday in order to give themselves even a faint hope at lifting the Super Rugby Aotearoa trophy later in the year.
Saturday’s match kicks off at 7:05pm NZT from Sky Stadium in Wellington and will be broadcast live on RugbyPass for subscribers with a Super Rugby Aotearoa season pass.
Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Julian Savea, Billy Proctor, Ngani Laumape, Salesi Rayasi, Orbyn Leger, Luke Campbell, Ardie Savea, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Isaia Walker-Leawere, James Blackwell, Tyrel Lomax, Ricky Riccitelli, Xavier Numia. Reserves: James O’Reilly, Fraser Armstrong, Tevita Mafileo, Liam Mitchell, Devan Flanders, Jonathan Taumateine, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Wes Goosen.
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