Coles back to lead Hurricanes against Crusaders
Wellington - Hurricanes captain Dane Coles will return to the starting XV for the first time since 2017 when they meet the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.
Coles impressed off the bench in last week's 20-19 win over the Waratahs and was keen to be involved from the start.
"To be honest it felt really good to be back playing for this side again and I just want to rip into it," he told the Hurricanes’ official website.
Coles' inclusion is one of four changes to the side which ran on at Brookvale Oval with lock Du'Plessis Kirifi set to start for the first time after he also impressed on debut against the Waratahs.
In the backline, scrumhalf Finlay Christie replaces last week's captain TJ Perenara who has been included on the bench.
Midfielder Matt Proctor has recovered from a virus that kept him out of the Waratahs match. His return sees Vince Aso move in a spot to inside centre with Ngani Laumape moving to the bench.
There is plenty of experience on the bench with Perenara and Laumape joined by Ricky Riccitelli, while flanker Sam Henwood and playmaker Jackson Garden-Bachop have also joined the match-day 23.
Hurricanes head coach John Plumtree felt there was genuine excitement among the group of players who had been given their first opportunity to start in 2019.
"We trust the guys we have in the squad to do a job for us and I know how much they will be looking forward to the challenge of playing the Crusaders on their home ground," he said.
"Given the nature of the draw and the depth we have in our squad, guys are going to be given the opportunity to impress and this is certainly one of those occasions."
Saturday’s clash is scheduled for 08:35 (SA time).
15 David Havili, 14 Manasa Mataele, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Matt Todd (captain), 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Joe Moody
Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Harry Allan, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Tom Sanders, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Braydon Ennor
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Vince Aso, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Liam Mitchell, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Chris Eves
Substitutes: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Ben May, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Sam Henwood, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Ngani Laumape