Wellington – Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd made three changes to their starting XV for Friday’s Super Rugby match against the Kings at Westpac Stadium (kick-off 08:35 SA time).
Willis Halaholo, Jason Woodward and Michael Fatialofa all come into the starting side after being among the substitutes during the Hurricanes’ 41-6 win over the Western Force in Palmerston North.
Woodward takes barn-storming All Black wing Julian Savea’s place on the left wing, Halaholo starts at centre with Vince Aso moving to the bench, and Fatialofa comes in at lock for Blade Thomson, who shifts to No 8 in place of Victor Vito, who will miss the match with a calf strain.
“All three of those guys who have come in will be looking put their hand up and this gives them an opportunity to do that,” said Boyd.
“We are very lucky with the depth we have in a number of positions and particularly in the outside backs.
“This is a really important match for us a week out from our first bye. We’ve got some good momentum from our last two matches and it’s vital that we carry that on against the Kings.”
It will be Halaholo and Fatialofa’s first Hurricanes starts. Halaholo has made seven previous appearances off the bench since his debut against the Blues last season, while Fatialofa made his Super Rugby debut against the Force in Palmerston North last Friday.
There are also a number of changes to the substitutes where utility back Matt Proctor returns from a knee injury and scrumhalf Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi and lock Geoff Cridge make their first appearances of the season.
Tahuriorangi has played a limited role in the opening weeks of the season after battling a leg infection picked up during the pre-season, while Cridge has recently returned to the field after recovering from a shoulder injury.
In the final change, Loni Uhila comes back into the squad for Reggie Goodes, who took a head knock against the Force.
15 James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Willis Halaholo, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Jason Woodward, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Michael Fatialofa, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Chris Eves
Substitutes: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Loni Uhila, 18 Ben May, 19 Geoff Cridge, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Vince Aso, 23 Matt Proctor
15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Luzuko Vulindlu, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Shane Gates (vice-captain), 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Louis Fouche, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 CJ Velleman, 5 JC Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (captain), 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Sti Sithole
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhoudt, 17 Justin Ackerman, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Kevin Luiters, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 JP Du Plessis