Keo.co.za brings you news from New Zealand’s Super Rugby franchises.
Ellis, Whitelock bolster Saders – All Blacks Andy Ellis and Sam Whitelock will return from injury this week to start against the Blues.
Ellis replaces scrumhalf Will Heinz, while Whitelock comes in for Chris Jack in the second row. Coach Todd Blackadder has made two other changes, with Matt Todd slotting in for the injured Richie McCaw and Ben Franks displacing Wyatt Crockett at loosehead prop.
Kieran Read will lead the team in McCaw’s absence.
Crusaders -15 Tom Marshall, 14 Brent Ward, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Ben Franks.
Subs: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Luke Romano, 19 Jonathan Poff, 20 Wlli Heinz, 21 Matt Berquist, 22 Ryan Crotty.
Tialata to hit 100 – Neemia Tialata will make his 100th appearance for the Hurricanes when he starts against the Chiefs on Friday. The Canes have made one change to their backline with Alapati Leiua moving to the centre in place of the injured Conrad Smith. Julian Savea will start on the wing.
Hurricanes – 15 Cory Jane, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Alapati Leiua, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore (c), 1 John Schwalger.
Subs: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Jacob Ellison, 18 Jason Eaton, 19 Mark Reddish/Karl Lowe, 20 Tyson Keats, 21 Jayden Hayward, 22 Richard Buckman.
Sweeney in for Umaga - Dwayne Sweeney will replace the injured centre Tana Umaga in the Chiefs’ hosting of the Hurricanes in Hamilton. Lock Isaac Ross is the only other change to the starting side.
Chiefs – 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Dwayne Sweeney, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam , 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Nathan White, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Ben May.
Subs: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Matt Vant Leven, 19 TBC, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Tim Nanai-Williams, 22 Jackson Willison.
Cowan benched – Jimmy Cowan has been dropped to the reserves for the Highlanders’ clash against the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.
The All Blacks scrumhalf makes way for Aaron Smith while Tony Brown completes the new halfback combination as he fills in for Liam Sopoaga, who joined the NZ U20s for the Junior World Champs in Italy.
In the front row, hooker Jason Rutledge and prop Bronson Murray are promoted to the run-side while Mo Schwalger and Chris King fall to the bench.
Highlanders – 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Kendrick Lynn, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Siale Piutau, 10 Tony Brown, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Bronson Murray, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c).
Subs: 16 Mo Schwalger, 17 Chris King, 18 Nick Crosswell, 19 John Hardie, 22 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Robbie Robinson, 22 Telusa Veainu.
Hurricanes looking for new leaders - Coach Mark Hammett says the decision not to resign Ma’a Nonu and Andrew Hore is down to the fact that the Hurricanes need new leadership.
The Hurricanes have battled since Hammett took the reigns at the beginning of the season, and much has been written about how many of the senior players disagree with his playing philosophy. Hammett said Nonu and Hore would be surplus to requirements in 2012, and that the franchise needed to move on.
‘There’s some reasons, certainly as a coaching team, as a Hurricanes management, we’ve decided to move on with the future,’ Hammett told The Dominion Post. ‘This isn’t just a coaching decision, this is a full management decision. We want to work really hard around our leadership moving forward and there’s a lot of excitement. I’m excited about it, it has been a difficult year, there’s no hiding from that.’