Super Rugby Pacific: Ardie Savea returns to captain Hurricanes against Waratahs
The Hurricanes have received a boost with the return of their captain and star back-row Ardie Savea for Friday’s Super Rugby Pacific clash with the Waratahs in Wellington.
The 29-year-old returns to the starting line-up at number eight after missing the Hurricanes’ Round Three defeat at home against the Blues last weekend.
Served his suspension
Savea served a one-match suspension after making a throat-slitting gesture to his opponents in his team’s Round Two victory over the Rebels in Melbourne.
Flankers Devan Flanders and Du’Plessis Kirifi joins Savea in the Hurricanes back-row, while in the front-row Asafo Aumua comes into the run-on side at hooker with Dane Coles, who captained the team against the Blues, dropping down to the replacements bench.
Aumua is joined up front by props Tyrel Lomax and Xavier Numia while Isaia Walker-Leawere and James Blackwell pack down in the second-row.
The big news in the backline is that Kini Naholo will make his Hurricanes debut on the left wing alongside the experienced Julian Savea, who starts on the other wing, and Josh Moorby completes the back three at full-back.
Elsewhere, Jordie Barrett and Billy Proctor are the starting centres while Brett Cameron and Cam Roigard continue as the half-back duo.
Amongst the replacements, midfielder Bailyn Sulivan is set to make his return from injury, with Wellington and former Crusaders, Chiefs and All Blacks second-row Dominic Bird could make his Hurricanes debut if he takes to the field.
Excited to unleash young wing
Hurricanes head coach Jason Holland is excited to unleash Naholo, who is the younger brother of former All Blacks and Highlanders flyer Waisake Naholo.
“Kini has got himself into good shape and is looking sharp. He’s a big threat with ball in hand, and has earned this opportunity to start,” Holland told the Hurricanes’ official website.
The Hurricanes players will wear Hawke’s Bay, East Coast and Poverty Bay socks in Friday’s fixture as a show of support and respect for their regions most affected by Cyclone Gabrielle.
Hurricanes: 15 Josh Moorby, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Kini Naholo, 10 Brett Cameron, 9 Cameron Roigard, 8 Ardie Savea (c), 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Devan Flanders, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Xavier Numia
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Pasilio Tosi, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Braydon Iose, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Aidan Morgan, 23 Bailyn Sulivan
Date: Friday, March 17
Venue: Sky Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19:05 local (06:05 GMT)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Angus Mabey (New Zealand), Marcus Playle (New Zealand)
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