Vince Aso will play his 50th game of Super Rugby as the Hurricanes get ready to face the Blues at Sky Stadium on Saturday.
The Wellington-based Super Rugby team has made just two changes to its starting line-up, following a massive 62 – 15 win against the Sunwolves in Napier.
Jordie Barrett coming back into the fold as fullback will be the only change made to the backline.
Up front, Isaia Walker-Leawere gets the nod at lock ahead of James Blackwell who will start the game on the bench.
Head coach, Jason Holland, says management is spoilt for choice when it comes to selection.
“We have a competitive squad, with a lot of depth. When we sit down early in the week to discuss the line-up, we’re always faced with a challenge around who we pick and it’s natural that one or two will be disappointed.”
TJ Perenara will once again take the role of captain, with Dane Coles named in the side but on the bench.
Kobus Van Wyk has his second chance to shine at right wing, after a triumphant debut which saw him score three tries last weekend.
His strength and speed are things Holland hopes to utilise this weekend.
“If we can get our attacking game operating like it was last week, it should be quite an exciting game to watch. We cannot underestimate the Blues. They have some big boys up front and their defensive capability is solid. “
The first NZ derby clash this week, coincides with the theme of Mana Moana – a celebration of Pacific and Maori culture alongside players past and present.
Du’Plessis Kirifi, says it makes being selected to start as flanker even more special.
“We’ve had some tough games but there’s nothing like playing another NZ team. They’re big, they’re physical and there’s a lot on the line each time we step on the field. It’s an added bonus knowing we’ll be celebrating our Pacific and Maori culture this week as well. I Can’t wait to run out under those lights in the yellow jersey.”
The fans will also be treated to cultural performances, lei giveaways, moko painting and other Maori and Pacific celebrations.
The Hurricanes team to take on the Blues at Sky Stadium is:
15 Jordie Barrett 14 Kobus Van Wyk 13 Vince Aso 12 Ngani Laumape 11 Ben Lam 10 Fletcher Smith 9 TJ Perenara [C] 8 Gareth Evans 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi 6 Vaea Fifita 5 Scott Scrafton 4 Isaia Walker-Leawere
3 Tyrel Lomax 2 Asafo Aumua 1 Xavier Numia
Reserves: 16 Dane Coles 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones 18 Alex Fidow 19 James Blackwell 20 Devan Flanders 21 Jamie Booth 22 Billy Proctor 23 Wes Goosen