After three victories from four appearances, Head Coach Jason Holland has named his side to face Moana Pasifika.
With All Blacks’ Tyrel Lomax, Dane Coles and Jordie Barrett on a rest week, Owen Franks returns to the starting pack to join forces with Xavier Numia and Asafo Aumua in the front row. Aumua will celebrate his 50th Hurricanes match since his debut against the Crusaders at Wellington in 2018.
Dominic Bird will partner Isaia Walker-Leawere at lock, while stalwart James Blackwell gets a rest week. In the loose forwards, Peter Lakai gets the nod to start this week, linking up with Devan Flanders at six, and skipper, Ardie Save at eight.
"A priority for us is keeping everyone on top of their game and 100% ready to go. We’ve got good options there in the locks and loosies, so Blackwell and Kirifi are having a week off.
“They’re all playing well, so we are quite happy to mix and match at the moment, to keep that competition going, and keep the guys as fresh as possible at the backend of this eight-week block,” said Holland.
Bailyn Sullivan makes a start this week in the midfield, outside Billy Proctor. Last week’s standout Kini Naholo makes a shift to right wing, linking up with Salesi Rayasi. Julian Savea will look to provide impact off the bench.
Waikato hooker, Hame Faiva, and Counties first five, Riley Hohepa will look to make their Hurricanes debut off the bench.
“Hame has been with us for a few months as a replacement player and he’s been brilliant in our environment. He’s been in Europe playing for a while, so has the experience, and has been working hard so he gets his opportunity to play.
“With Aidan’s concussion last week, Riley Hohepa will also look to debut off the bench. He’s got a good rugby brain and knows how to run our games, so he’s been a good addition to our environment.
“Moana Pasifika will be a good challenge. We’ve seen what happened last year when we didn’t get things right. We’re pretty motivated for this one, we need to get the small parts of our game right, so that we get the results we want,” said Holland.
The match will be aired live on Sky Sport.
The Hurricanes will return home next week to take on the Western Force in Palmerston North on Sunday, 2 April with a family-friendly 3:35PM kick-off. Tickets are available HERE.
Hurricanes named to take on Moana Pasifika:
1. Xavier Numia
2. Asafo Aumua **
3. Owen Franks
4. Dominic Bird
5. Isaia Walker-Leawere
6. Devan Flanders
7. Peter Lakai
8. Ardie Savea ©
9. Cameron Roigard
10. Brett Cameron
11. Salesi Rayasi
12. Billy Proctor
13. Bailyn Sullivan
14. Kini Naholo
15. Josh Moorby
16. Hame Faiva *
17. Tevita Mafileo
18. Pasilio Tosi
19. TK Howden
20. Brayden Iose
21. Jamie Booth
22. Riley Hohepa *
23. Julian Savea