Hurricanes make two big backline changes for Highlanders
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Hurricanes have made just two changes to their starting side to face the Highlanders in Friday’s final round-robin Super Rugby Aotearoa match against the Highlanders in Wellington.
Experienced wing Julian Savea returns to the run-on side while Billy Proctor is promoted from the bench after making a big impression as a replacement in the Hurricanes’ last-minute loss to confirmed finalists Chiefs last Friday.
The bench also have a settled look to it although there could be a debut for Wellington wing Pepesana Patafilo who has continued to work positively towards gaining a first opportunity in the Hurricanes jersey.
Despite results in the domestic Super Rugby season, Hurricanes head coach Jason Holland expects the squad to step up and improve when they get the opportunity to run back on to Sky Stadium.
“It’s something we have talked about, to put on a performance our loyal fans and members will be really proud of, and that’s a key motivation for us,” he said.
“We have been really close in a number of games this season and we feel we are not far away. There’s no doubt the Highlanders will feel exactly the same and the way the two sides play, it’s going to be a match not short of opportunities given the positive intent we have.”
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Ruben Love, 9 Luke Campbell, 8 Devan Flanders, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Xavier Numia.
Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Fraser Armstrong, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Braydon Iose, 21 Cam Roigard, 22 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23 Pepesano Patafilo.
Date: Friday, April 30
Venue: Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19.05 (07.05 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: James Doleman, Paul Williams
TMO: Brendon Pickerill