Hurricanes bring in Uhila, Abbott

Date published: March 8 2017

Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd has made just two changes to his run-on side for Friday's clash with the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Loose head prop Loni Uhila and lock Mark Abbott have been ushered into the tight five for the big New Zealand derby.

Uhila, popularly known as The Tongan Bear, pushes Chris Eves to the reserves and Mike Kainga out of the matchday 23, while Abbott makes a straight swap with James Blackwell, who takes his place on the bench.

Uhila missed the opening two rounds of the season, against the Sunwolves and Rebels, due to a calf strain, while Abbott missed the trip to Japan due to personal reasons before entering the competition as a substitute against the Rebels.

"Loni and Abbo have both had slightly delayed starts to the season, but they've performed really well through the preseason and now they're ready to enter the fray," Boyd said.

"That's not a reflection on the guys who they've replaced, but just what we feel will be the best combination for this week."

Friday's match represents the first between the two clubs since last year's Super Rugby semi-final in Wellington, which was won by the Hurricanes 25-9.

Hurricanes: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Vince Aso, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Reed Prinsep, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (c), 1 Loni Uhila 
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Ben May, 19 James Blackwell, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Otere Black,23  Jordie Barrett

Date: Friday, March 10
Venue: FMG Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19:35 local (06:35 GMT)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), James Doleman (New Zealand)
TMO: Glen Newman (New Zealand)