In the front row, Asafo Aumua returns from injury at hooker and is flanked by Wellington’s loosehead Xavier Numia and All Black, Tyrel Lomax, with the latter returning from a rest week.
Aumua was in devastating form before his injury and will inject x-factor into the Hurricanes pack.
Regular starters, James Blackwell and Isaia Walker-Leawere join forces at lock, with Justin Sangster looking to provide impact off the bench. Wellington’s Caleb Delany makes a start at blindside, linking up with openside flanker Du’Plessis Kirifi and captain, Ardie Savea, in rounding out the forward pack.
Cameron Roigard starts at halfback and will be partnered at first-five by Aidan Morgan, with Jamie Booth providing backup. Brett Cameron will make his first appearance off the bench since going down with a knee injury against the Force in Palmerston North at the start of April.
“It’s an awesome effort from the medical team and from BC [Brett Cameron] himself in getting him back. With the initial prognoses, we weren’t sure we would be getting him back at all this season.
“Everyone has worked hard to get him here, so it’s a pretty big success story as far as we’re concerned. He’s training well, and we’re looking forward to him getting back onto the park,” said Holland.
In the midfield, Jordie Barrett starts at second-five, with Billy Proctor at centre. Josh Moorby starts at fullback and will look for support in the form of finishers Julian Savea and Kini Naholo.
With both teams fighting to secure a home quarter-final, the match is crucial for the Hurricanes with a win putting them in the top four with one round remaining.
“At this stage of the season, every game is vital, and this is definitely the case in Auckland this weekend. Small margins are massive, and the team that makes the least mistakes and takes their opportunities is the team that wins these massive knockout games, so we are really focused on that.
“We know what a massive challenge it is to go to Eden Park and come away with a win, especially with this Blues side who have All Blacks all over the field and are playing a good brand of rugby. It’s going to be a tough game but we’re training well and feeling confident about where we are at,” said Holland.
Hurricanes named to take on the Blues:
1 Xavier Numia
2 Asafo Aumua
3 Tyrel Lomax
4 James Blackwell
5 Isaia Walker-Leawere
6 Caleb Delany
7 Du’Plessis Kirifi
8 Ardie Savea ©
9 Cam Roigard
10 Aidan Morgan
11 Kini Naholo
12 Jordie Barrett
13 Billy Proctor
14 Julian Savea
15 Josh Moorby
Reserves: 16. Hame Faiva 17. Tevita Mafileo 18. Owen Franks 19. Justin Sangster 20. Brayden Iose 21. Jamie Booth 22. Brett Cameron 23. Salesi Rayasi