Tough selection decisions for Hurricanes to face Lions
The level of competition for places in the Hurricanes playing squad continues to intensify with head coach Chris Boyd admitting there were some tough decisions made before he finalised his combinations to face the Lions at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.
Boyd has made four changes to the starting side which beat the Sunwolves 43-15 in the last Investec Super Rugby round.
The return of Ngani Laumape from a week’s break has seen the in-form Vince Aso move out of the 23-man squad, a decision Boyd found difficult given just how well the versatile back was playing in 2018.
However, Boyd stressed that Aso would be right back in the mix as the Hurricanes negotiate a difficult few weeks before the international playing window.
Laumape’s return is the only change in the backs but there have been three made up front where prop Jeff Toomaga-Allen swaps places for Ben May.
There has been a similar switch in the loose forwards where Gareth Evans comes in for Reed Prinsep while Vaea Fifita returns to the second row after a week off.
The only other alteration to the match-day 23 comes in the reserves with Ihaia West coming in for Jackson Garden-Bachop.
Nehe Milner-Skudder, who made a welcome return to rugby in the last quarter of the Sunwolves match, will again come off the bench.
Saturday’s match, a repeat of the 2016 Super Rugby final, as well as last year’s semifinal, will be significant for centre Matt Proctor who will make his 50th appearance for the Hurricanes.
Kick-off at Westpac Stadium is 7.35pm.
The Hurricanes squad to face the Lions is:
15 Jordie Barrett 14 Julian Savea 13 Matt Proctor 12 Ngani Laumape 11 Ben Lam 10 Beauden Barrett 9 Finlay Christie 8 Gareth Evans 7 Ardie Savea 6 Brad Shields (c) 5 Michael Fatialofa 4 Vaea Fifita 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen 2 Ricky Riccitelli 1 Toby Smith
16 James O’Reilly 17 Chris Eves 18 Ben May 19 Sam Lousi 20 Reed Prinsep 21 Jamie Booth 22 Ihaia West 23 Nehe Milner-Skudder