New Zealand hooker Dane Coles has been named in the Hurricanes’ starting team for the first time this year for their game at the Chiefs.
It means the Super Rugby derby clash will also be the first time the co-captaincy between Coles and TJ Perenara will formally come into effect.
The Wellington-based Super Rugby squad will be looking to bounce back, after a tough 24-15 defeat at home against the Blues last Saturday.
With Tyrel Lomax suspended for three weeks, Ben May comes into the fold as tighthead prop.
There are a few other changes up front with Fraser Armstrong replacing Xavier Numia, who is recovering from a head knock. James Blackwell makes his way back into the starting XV whilst Devan Flanders is promoted to the number six jersey.
Meanwhile, Coles’ return will mean Asafo Aumua will start the match on the bench, with Hurricanes head coach Jason Holland admitting there’s plenty of competition for the number two jersey at the moment.
“Colesy wants to put his hand up and grab that role. We have got three awesome boys fighting for a chance to start, so they are all aware they need to take the chance when its given and play well,” said the coach.
There has been no changes made to the backline this week, with Fletcher Smith, Ben Lam, Ngani Laumape, Vince Aso, Kobus Van Wyk and Jordie Barrett all included for what will be a tough trip to Hamilton.
— Hurricanes Rugby (@Hurricanesrugby) March 11, 2020
Holland says the team’s been focussing on its accuracy ahead of what will be another difficult derby.
“We weren’t accurate enough to take opportunities and territory we were gaining in first 30 minutes against the Blues,” he added. “We’re working hard at fixing that that this week, especially as this Chiefs side will be looking to capitalise on that.”
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 TJ Perenara (cc), 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Devan Flanders, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles (cc), 1 Fraser Armstrong
Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Vaea Fifita, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Billy Proctor, 23 Wes Goosen
Date: Friday, March 13
Venue: FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19:05 local (18:05 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Peterson (New Zealand)