Same again for Hurricanes

Date published: March 2 2016

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Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd has named an unchanged starting side to play the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday in an early season replay of last year's Super Rugby final.

A week after losing heavily to the Brumbies in Canberra, Boyd has shown faith in his players by making just one confirmed change to his match day 23.

Utility back James Marshall returns to the squad after missing the first round due to the arrival of his first child, replacing Otere Black in the reserves.

Nehe Milner-Skudder has been bracketed with Marshall at full-back after falling heavily on his leg during the opening round and will be monitored by the Hurricanes medical staff before a final decision is made on his availability.

If Milner-Skudder is ruled out Marshall will start with Jason Woodward coming into the reserves.

After a week of self-reflection, Boyd said the Hurricanes were keen to put their flat opening night performance in the rear view mirror.

"We didn't start the season how we intended to and I know the boys are hurting," he said.

"They'll be going out to put in a performance they're proud of. We're up against last year's champions on their home ground, so it should be a great occasion."

Last time the two clubs played each other was in the 2015 Super Rugby final with the Highlanders winning a thrilling match at Westpac Stadium 21-14.

The sides played each other twice during the 2015 regular season with the Hurricanes winning on both occasions, 20-13 in Dunedin, and 56-20 in Napier.

Both teams have suffered injury blows in the lead up to Saturday's match with Hurricanes scrum-half TJ Perenara continuing to lead his side in the absence of season captain Dane Coles, whose tight calf has again delayed his first appearance of the year.

The Highlanders will be without wing Waisake Naholo, who suffered a fracture in his leg during his side's first up loss to the Blues at Eden Park in round one.

Hurricanes: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder/James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Blade Thomson, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Leni Apisai, 1 Reggie Goodes 
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 James Marshall/Jason Woodward, 23 Willis Halaholo

Date: Saturday, March 5
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19:35 local (06:35 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Referees: Jamie Nutbrown, Brendon Pickerill
TMO: Chris Wratt

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