The Hurricanes have named their team to play the Crusaders at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday with Jeremy Thrush taking over the captaincy.
Regular Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith has been ruled out due to an injury sustained whilst playing for the All Blacks so Jeremy Thrush has been given the captaincy reins in Smith’s absence.
Smith's injury also means that Tim Bateman coming in to fill the vacant spot at centre in the only change to coach Mark Hammett most recent backline combination.
Blade Thomson also enters the starting line-up, while Brad Shields comes into the back row for an injured Faifili Levave.
Statistics suggest a close encounter is on the cards, with both teams averaging 29 points per game. The Hurricanes have managed to score 407 points in 14 matches, while the Crusaders have generated 381 points in 13 fixtures.
With the Hurricanes trailing the New Zealand conference leaders by four points, the match is a must-win for the home side, who also have one less match in hand compared with their Kiwi counterparts.
1. Ben Franks,2. Dane Coles,3. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen,4. Jeremy Thrush (c),5. Blade Thomson,6. Brad Shields,7. Ardie Savea,8. Victor Vito,9. TJ Perenara,10. Beauden Barrett,11. Julian Savea,12. Alapati Leiua,13. Tim Bateman,14. Cory Jane,15. Matt Proctor
Replacements : 16. Motu Matu’u/Reggie Goodes,17. Chris Eves,18. Reggie Goodes/Brendon Edmonds,19. James Broadhurst,20. Jack Lam,21. Chris Smylie,22. Hadleigh Parkes,23. James Marshall