Brown makes a raft of changes for Hurricanes battle

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Naming his team for the side, Brown said the Highlanders had wanted to make some changes when selecting their side to play the Blues last week, but that hadn't generated the performance they wanted.

 

Central to that is the return of Mitchell to first five-eighths and Josh Ioane moving to fullback.

 

Brown wants improved direction by his tactical leader and believed Ioane needed some freedom to regain his best touch.

 

He wanted to take pressure off Ioane and get him playing rugby. It was easier to do that from fullback.

 

"He has got to back himself and enjoy his rugby," Brown said.

 

Ioane needed to free his mind so he could go out and play the game as he was could.

 

Hunt gave the side the control it needed with the way he led from first five-eighths.

 

He will be outside Aaron Smith, the halfback who will become the Highlanders' most capped player in his 154th game for the side, passing Ben Smith's record.

 

 

Brown said it was 'a remarkable achievement'.

 

"He amazes me [on] most days. He is one of the most driven rugby players I've ever had to coach. He always comes in with a lot of energy. He's always striving to be better than he was last week.

 

"And, he has all these milestones and goals he is trying to tick off before he eventually retires in probably about 20 years' time," he said.

 

Wing Freedom Vahaakolo will make his debut on the wing. He had moved south for a chance to play professional rugby, and he had made a good fist of it, Brown said.

 

"I think it's time for him to show everyone what he's got," he said.

 

"He's a power athlete, we've got a lot of speed outside, but we don't have a lot of power so we're hoping he's going to give us that physicality in the width that we're after. He's got plenty of x-factor, hopefully we'll see it on Friday night."

 

Lock Paripari Parkinson was back after completing his recovery from an ankle reconstruction.

 

"He's someone we need at the moment around physicality in our forward pack," he said.

 

Thomas Umaga-Jensen would bolster the midfield from the bench after also coming back from injury, and his size would be an asset in the final stages of the game.

 

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