Super Rugby champions the Hurricanes have named Dane Coles, Beauden Barrett and Nehe Milner-Skudder in their starting line up to play the Rebels at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.
The Hurricanes star trio are three of the four changes to the side that played the Sunwolves in Tokyo past week.
The other change is the promotion of Reed Prinsep to No.8 in place of the injured Blade Thomson.
Hurricanes hooker and captain Coles and first-five Barrett swap places with Ricky Riccitelli and Otere Black respectively after coming off the reserves during the team’s 83-17 win in Tokyo.
Milner-Skudder has recovered from the hamstring strain that ruled him out of the season opener to replace Jordie Barrett at fullback.
Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd said the selection of the team had been fairly straight forward with the changes largely part of a plan for the opening two matches of the season.
“Dane and Beauden were always going to come back into the starting team and Nehe would have started round one if he’d been fit, so the selections certainly aren’t form related.
“Blade Thomson dislocated his shoulder in Japan and is having scans to determine the severity of his injury, so Reed gets an early chance to stake a claim at the back of the scrum.”
Boyd said the challenge for his team was to put their first up result behind them and prepare for a battle against the Rebels.
“We certainly took some positives away from our first match, but I think there is a realisation among the group that this week represents a big step up and we are expecting the Rebels to be highly motivated after their loss to the Blues.
“I know the players are really excited at the prospect of getting out in front of their home crowd for the first time this year.”
There is one further personnel change to the Hurricanes match day 23 with lock Mark Abbott, who was unavailable for the trip to Japan due to a personal commitment, joins Riccitelli, Black and Jordie Barrett in the reserves.
When the team’s last played, in 2016, the Hurricanes beat the Rebels 38-13 in Melbourne. In total the clubs have played each other five times with the Hurricanes winning the last four. The Rebels only win was in Melbourne in 2011.
15 Nehe Milner-Skudder , 14 Vince Aso , 13 Matt Proctor , 12 Ngani Laumape , 11 Julian Savea , 10 Beauden Barrett , 9 TJ Perenara , 8 Reed Prinsep , 7 Ardie Savea , 6 Brad Shields , 5 Michael Fatialofa , 4 James Blackwell , 3 Jeffery To’omaga-Allen , 2 Dane Coles (c) , 1 Chris Eves
Replacements : Ricky Riccitelli, Ben May, Mike Kainga, Mark Abbott, Callum Gibbins, Chris Smylie, Otere Black, Jordie Barrett.