Julian Savea returns as Hurricanes brace for consequential clash with Blues
Coach Jason Holland has rewarded his Hurricanes charges for their successful flogging of the Highlanders last week, making just three changes to his starting side for their important match-up with the Blues in Auckland.
Up front, Fraser Armstrong has been named to start at loosehead prop, while James Blackwell returns to the second row in place of Isaia Walker-Leawere, who moves to the bench alongside Wes Goosen and Xavier Numia after the trio started under the roof at Forsyth-Barr Stadium.
Holland said the coaching staff were continuing their plan to rotate some players and give others an opportunity through the tough Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign.
He was more than happy with how the squad had returned to training this week after what was a morale-boosting performance against the Highlanders.
“We have felt all the way through we have been doing a lot of positive things, it was just about taking out a few of the things that were costing us picking up points and wins,” he said.
“We are excited about the challenge of heading to Eden Park in search of our second win but we also know we’ll have to keep making improvements to our overall game.”
With last week’s round of results condensing the competition ladder behind the leading Crusaders, Holland said there remained plenty of incentive for the squad.
“We have plenty to play for and we will go to Auckland with plenty of belief,” Holland added.
Last week’s victory over the Highlanders marked the Hurricanes’ first win of the competition while the Blues are sitting on a two-match losing streak.
The loser on Saturday night will face a torrid time keeping themselves in contention for the finals with the Hurricanes, in particular, likely to find themselves out of the running altogether.
Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Julian Savea, Billy Proctor, Ngani Laumape, Salesi Rayasi, Orbyn Leger, Luke Campbell, Ardie Savea, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Scott Scrafton, James Blackwell, Tyrel Lomax, Dane Coles, Fraser Armstrong. Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Xavier Numia, Tevita Mafileo, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Devan Flanders, Jonathan Taumateine, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Wes Goosen.
– with Hurricanes Rugby
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