Flanker Callum Gibbins will start at openside in one of three changes to the Hurricanes team named to play the Highlanders at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.
Gibbins’ first start of the season means Ardie Savea will play numbe eight with Reed Prinsep moving to the reserves, while loosehead prop Chris Eves and full-back Jordie Barrett come into the run-on side for the injured Loni Uhila and Nehe Milner-Skudder respectively.
Uhila (calf) and Milner-Skudder (fractured foot) were both injured during last weekend’s 26-18 loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton.
There are four further changes in the Hurricanes reserves.
Lock Sam Lousi and scrum-half Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi come into the match day 23 for the first time this season, while utility-back Wes Goosen and prop Mike Kainga return to the fold after missing the cut against the Chiefs.
Lousi, who is set to make his Hurricanes debut, adds his considerable size at the expense of James Blackwell, while Tahuriorangi takes Chris Smylie’s place as TJ Perenara’s back up.
Goosen provides outside back cover as he did against the Sunwolves in Tokyo, while Kainga returns to the impact role he filled during the opening two rounds of the season.
The bench also features prop Ben May, who will make his 50th appearance for the Hurricanes should he take the field against the Highlanders.
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Vince Aso, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Jeffery To’omaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles(c), 1 Chris Eves
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Ben May, 18 Mike Kainga, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Otere Black, 23 Wes Goosen
Date: Saturday, March 18
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 17:35 local (6:35 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Richard Kelly (New Zealand)
TMO: Shane McDermott (New Zealand)