Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd has made three changes to his starting XV for Saturday’s Super Rugby quarter-final against the Sharks in Wellington.
There is one change in the back-line where Matt Proctor has recovered from a hamstring strain to take his place at centre, and two in the pack where props Loni Uhila and Ben May come into the front row.
Proctor’s return sees Jason Woodward shift out to the left wing in place of Julian Savea, who moves to the reserves.
Uhila starts at loosehead prop in place of Reggie Goodes, who was unavailable for selection after leaving the field with concussion during the final match of the regular season against the Crusaders in Christchurch last weekend.
It will be Uhila’s first start of the season after making 12 previous appearances off the reserves bench, while May also makes his first start of 2016 after eight appearances as a substitute.
After wearing the number three jersey against the Crusaders, Chris Eves returns to make an impact role from the replacements bench that features an injury replacement in the form of former New Zealand Maori prop Mike Kainga and the return of midfielder Vince Aso from a calf strain.
“We had some tough choices, but we believe we’ve picked the best team to play the Sharks,” said Boyd.
“We’ve got some real depth and at the end of the day we pick the team on form and what we think is best for the team. Loni Uhila, Jason Woodward and Willis Halaholo were all very good against the Crusaders and they’ve forced our hand for this match.”
Bay of Plenty prop Kainga, a member of the Chiefs Super Rugby squad in 2013, is eligible for the Hurricanes due to injuries to front line props Jeffery Toomaga-Allen (broken arm), Hisa Sasagi (calf strain) and Goodes.
The Hurricanes and Sharks played each other once during the regular season with the South Africans winning 32-15 in Durban.
The Hurricanes earned home advantage for the quarter-final after winning the New Zealand Conference and topping the competition ladder with a record of 11 wins and four losses.
The Sharks earned a wildcard berth in the playoffs after finishing third in the South African Conference behind the Lions and Stormers, and eighth overall on the competition ladder with a record of nine wins and five losses.
Sharks ring the changes for quarter-final
Sharks head coach Gary Gold has rung the changes to his starting XV for Saturday’s Super Rugby quarter-final with the Hurricanes in Wellington.There are several changes with full-back Willie le Roux, centre Paul Jordaan and flanker Jean-Luc du Preez all included in the run-on XV, having recovered from their respective ailments which have kept them out of action over the past few weeks.
Le Roux replaces Rhyno Smith, who did duty in last weekend’s clash with the Sunwolves in Durban. At full-back Jordaan returns to outside centre where he takes over from JP Pietersen who returns to the wing which means Odwa Ndungane shifts to the replacements bench.
In the final back-line change, Michael Claasens comes in at scrum-half in place of Stefan Ungerer.
Meanwhile, up front, Du Preez comes in for Tera Mtenbu on the blindside flank, Stefan Lewies returns to the second row at the expense of Ruan Botha, who drops out of the matchday squad, while Tendai Mtawarira comes in to skipper the team at loose-head prop with Thomas du Toit dropping to the bench.
Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Jason Woodward, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles (c), 1 Loni Uhila
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Mike Kainga, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Vince Aso, 23 Julian Savea
Sharks: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Garth April, 9 Michael Claasens, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Jean-luc du Preez, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Stefan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Odwa Ndungane
Date: Saturday, July 23
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Referees: Nick Briant, Paul Williams
TMO: Glenn Newman