RICHARD FERGUSON updates Keo.co.za followers of the latest Super Rugby news from New Zealand.
Hore, Woodcock back for Landers
Andrew Hore and Tony Woodcock will both return to the starting line-up for the Highlanders’ clash with the Reds this weekend.
Hore is back to captain the side, after he suffered a rib injury in an earlier round, while Woodcock is cleared to play after he withdrew from the team a week ago.
The only other change to the starting fifteen sees Kade Poki miss out due to a rib injury, being replaced by Buxton Popoalii.
The Highlanders will be desperate to break their duck this season, not having won a match so far, but will be confident as the Reds have never beaten them in Dunedin in Super Rugby.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Buxton Popoalii, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 John Hardie, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Brad Thorn (c), 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock. Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ma’afu Fia, 18 TJ Ioane, 19 Tim Boys, 20 Fumiaki Tanaka, 21 Lima Sopoaga, 22 Phil Burleigh.
Smith in doubt for Kings match
The Hurricanes are concerned that two key players might miss the match against the Kings this Saturday, as both Conrad Smith and TJ Perenara have to still prove their fitness.
Smith has a bruised heel and Perenara a calf strain, but both have been named in the team’s starting line-up, although bracketed in with a potential replacement. Winger Alapati Leiua will replace Smith in midfield while Chris Smylie will start should Perenara not make it.
There are more changes as hooker Dane Coles returns from injury to start the match, while Andre Taylor gets his fullback jersey back after making an impact in the match against the Highlanders two weeks ago.
Karl Lowe continues on the side of the scrum even though Ardie Savea has served his suspension and is available for selection.
It has been confirmed that both Conrad Smith and TJ Perenara came through their fitness tests and will start the match.
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks. Substitutes: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Reggie Goodes, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Chris Smylie 21 Tusi Pisi, 22 Reynold Lee-Lo.
Kahui and Pulu start for Chiefs
Richard Kahui will start his first match in close to a year when he runs out against the Blues this weekend. Kahui’s impact off the bench against the Highlanders showed what a class player he is and will get the opportunity to play more of the match.
Augustine Pulu replaces the injured Tawera Kerr-Barlow, while Brendon Leonard times his return from injury to perfection, coming onto the bench as cover for Pulu.
Coach Dave Rennie’s rotation policy continues as Bundee Aki, Fritz Lee, Tanerau Latimer and Toby Smith return to the starting fifteen following their break last week, while Andrew Horrell, Nick Crosswell, Sam Cane and Ben Tameifuna get their rest from the bench.
Chiefs: 15.Gareth Anscombe, 14.Lelia Masaga, 13.Richard Kahui, 12.Bundee Aki, 11.Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10.Aaron Cruden, 9.Augustine Pulu, 8.Fritz Lee, 7.Tanerau Latimer, 6.Liam Messam (c), 5.Brodie Retallick, 4.Michael Fitzgerald, 3.Ben Afeaki,2. Hika Elliot, 1.Toby Smith. Substitutes: 16.Rhys Marshall, 17.Ben Tameifuna, 18.Nick Crosswell, 19.Sam Cane, 20.Brendon Leonard, 21.Andrew Horrell, 22.Patrick Osborne.
Changes galore for Crusaders
Todd Blackadder has made four changes to the team that beat the Kings in Christchurch last weekend, to face the Stormers at Newlands this Saturday.
George Whitelock will captain the side in the absence of Kieran Read, while his brother Luke will join him in the loose trio, wearing the eighthman jersey. Willi Heinz continues to start ahead of Andy Ellis.
Dan Carter remained in New Zealand for the birth of his first child and has been replaced by Tyler Bleyendaal, while Israel Dagg returns to the side after missing the Kings match. Tom Marshall shifts from fullback to the wing, dropping Zac Guildford to the bench.
Jordan Taufua comes onto the bench to cover the loose forwards.Ryan Crotty will lead out the team, playing his 50th Super Rugby match.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg. 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Luke Whitelock 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock (captain), 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano , 3 Owen Franks 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett. Substitutes: 16 Benn Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Dominic Bird, 19 Jordan Taufua, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Adam Whitelock, 22 Zac Guildford