Teenager to steer Hurricanes against the Crusaders
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Hurricanes head coach Jason Holland has made six changes to his starting XV for the clash against the Crusaders on Sunday.
Holland has opted to hand rookie Ruben Love the unenviable task of starting his first Super Rugby match at flyhalf against the Crusaders in Wellington on Sunday.
The 19-year-old Hurricanes utility back has been named to start at No.10 as Super Rugby Aotearoa’s bottom-placed side prepares to take on the league leaders and reigning champions at Sky Stadium.
In doing so, he takes the place of Orbyn Leger, who had come into the squad as injury cover for Jackson Garden-Bachop and Simon Hickey, both of whom have been ruled out for the season with injuries.
Leger, a former Blues and Chiefs flyhalf, started in the Hurricanes’ last three matches against the Chiefs, Highlanders and Blues, but head coach Jason Holland has decided to make a change in the pivot role following last week’s 17-27 loss to the Blues.
Short on options, Holland has opted to thrust Love, who was earlier this week named in the Hurricanes U20 squad to play in this year’s Super Rugby Aoteaora U20 competition, into the hot seat in what could be a baptism of fire for the promising youngster.
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Another eye-catching change is in the midfield as one-test All Blacks centre Peter Umaga-Jensen returns to the run-on XV for the first time in over a month.
Elsewhere, lock Isaia Walker-Leawere and loose forward Devan Flanders are rewarded for their impressive showings off the bench last week by being named to start as they take the places of Scott Scrafton and Du’Plessis Kirifi, respectively.
Kirifi’s absence means captain Ardie Savea will move into openside flank to allow Flanders to slot in at No 8.
Wes Goosen, meanwhile, returns to the left wing ahead of the in-form Salesi Rayasi, and loosehead prop Xavier Numia comes into the No 1 jersey to replace Fraser Armstrong.
On the bench, one-test All Blacks hooker Asafo Aumua has shaken off a shoulder injury that has kept him sidelined for a month to take his place in the reserves.
The 23-year-old hasn’t been sighted since he left the field cradling his shoulder during the Hurricanes’ round two loss to the Crusaders, but the bulldozing front row has returned to inject some power off the pine.
He is joined in the reserves by Scrafton, Kirifi, Alex Fidow, Vaea Fifita and Billy Proctor as the new faces on the bench.
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Wes Goosen, 10 Ruben Love, 9 Luke Campbell, 8 Devan Flanders, 7 Ardie Savea (captain), 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Xavier Numia.
Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Tevita Mafileo, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Vaea Fifita, 21 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 22 Jonathan Taumateine, 23 Billy Proctor.
Date: Sunday, April 11
Venue: Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 15.35 (03.35 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser, Brendon Pickerill
TMO: Glenn Newman