Teenage Savea set for Super debut
Teenage loose forward Ardie Savea will make his long awaited Super Rugby debut for the Hurricanes when they host the Waratahs on Saturday.
The 19-year-old Wellington-born impressed many in his first ITM Cup season and now gets a chance to pull on the Canes jersey, following three matches for the development side.
This week’s changes to the starting 15 include Motu Matu’u who comes in for the injured Dane Coles. Coles sprained the ligaments in his thumb against the Kings and will miss this match.
Mark Reddish comes in for Jeremy Thrush who suffered an ankle injury against the Kings, with James Broadhurst on the bench, while Karl Lowe is in Hawke’s Bay and is unavailable for selection this week.
Three players have been bracketed and will be assessed after further training this week – Victor Vito (calf), Ash Dixon (shoulder) and Jeffery Toomaga-Allen (sternum). If Faifili Levave is required to start, that will see Jack Lam on the bench for the first time since returning from his knee injury.
This Saturday could be a memorable occasion for Chris Smylie. If the reserve scrumhalf takes the field, he will make his 50th Super Rugby appearance.
The week eight clash is set to be an exciting encounter because, as the history books show, very little separates the two sides. The Hurricanes have nine wins over the visitor’s eight, with no draws to date.
Despite one less win, the Waratahs are ahead on both tries and points scored. The Hurricanes have a total of 393 points against the Waratahs and 46 tries, meanwhile, the Australian side have accumulated 409 points and 50 tries.
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito/Faifili Levave, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Mark Reddish, 3 Ben May, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon/Reggie Goodes, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen/Reggie Goodes, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Faifili Levave/Jack Lam, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Tusi Pisi, 22 Reynold Lee-Lo.
Date: Saturday, April 6
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Kade McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)