Midfield reshuffle for Hurricanes
Cape Town - A midfield reshuffle is the only change to the Hurricanes starting XV named to play the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.
Ngani Laumape has been promoted from the bench to start at inside
centre with Willis Halaholo shifting out one spot to wear the No 13
jersey for the final round of Super Rugby's regular season.
The Hurricanes rejig comes after regular centre Matt Proctor was
ruled out with the hamstring strain that forced him off the field early
in last weekend's win over the Waratahs in Sydney. Proctor's regular
midfield partner Vince Aso remains sidelined with a calf strain.
It will be Laumape's first start since running out against the Sharks
five weeks ago, while Halaholo will make his 12th appearance and
fourth start of the campaign.
The two Tongans have previously started together twice in the
midfield this season, against the Kings and Jaguares, and played the
majority of last weekend's 28-17 win over the Waratahs.
Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd was more than comfortable the combination would perform well against the Crusaders.
"They haven't had a huge amount of time together as a midfield
pairing, but they have both been heavily involved all season, so I don't
think they will have any problems coming together this week," he said.
"Willis has been in good form for us all season, he's got good
footwork and a good passing game and Ngani is very powerful, so it's
potentially an exciting duo."
The only other change to the squad is on the replacements bench where
Wes Goosen takes Laumape's place as midfield cover. It will be Goosen's
first appearance since he scored a try with his first touch in Super
Rugby against the Reds two months ago.
The Hurricanes have already qualified for the Super Rugby playoffs
and with a bonus point win over the Crusaders could still win the New
Zealand Conference and earn a home quarter-final at Westpac Stadium next
However, win or lose, Boyd won't immediately know where his team are
heading for the playoffs, or whom they are playing, with their fate
dependent on other results.
The final playoff schedule won't be known until after the Lions play
the Jaguares on Sunday in the final match of the Super Rugby regular
15 James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13
Willis Halaholo, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9
TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael
Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Chris Eves, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Reg Goodes
Substitutes: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Ben May, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Mark Abbott,
20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Wes Goosen, 23 Jason