Hurricanes Super rugby head coach John Plumtree has named inside back pairing of TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett in the starting team to play the Lions in the round 17 Super Rugby match at Ellis Park.
The Hurricanes star will reach a special mark when they run on as the match will be the 100th time the pair have combined at halfback and first five-eighth for the Hurricanes since their first match together in 2012.
The pair, who have both played 123 times for the Hurricanes, have forged a formidable partnership in that time as Barrett has gone on to become the club’s leading points scorer (1223) of all time while Perenara has scored 52 tries, the most by any halfback in Super Rugby history.
Hurricanes head coach John Plumtree has made five changes to the starting XV from the one which defeated the Sharks 30-17 at Durban’s Kings Park last week.
With Matt Proctor (pectoral muscle) and Wes Goosen (hamstring) having returned to New Zealand to have their injuries assessed, Jordie Barrett moves into centre while Chase Tiatia will start on the wing.
Tiatia’s inclusion sees Ben Lam move to the right wing while the experienced James Marshall moves from the reserves to start at fullback.
Gareth Evans, who made a pleasing return from a long-term calf injury off the bench against the Sharks, starts at No 8 while Ardie Savea moves to the reserves with Du’Plessis Kirifi named at openside flanker.
“Ardie has had a massive workload for us, even with his All Blacks rest weeks, so we think it’s really important that he gets an opportunity to freshen up a little and come off the bench for us,” Plumtree said.
The other change in the pack is at hooker where Ricky Riccitelli is named to start with club captain Dane Coles again to feature off the bench.
The Hurricanes need two competition points to guarantee themselves a home quarterfinal with the Lions and Blues still to play.
“We know how desperate the Lions will be,” Plumtree added. “They are still in the mix to also host a play-off match and we know how tough they can be to beat at home.”
15 James Marshall, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Jordie Barrett, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Chase Tiatia, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Toby Smith
Replacements :16 Dane Coles, 17 Fraser Armstrong, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Liam Mitchell, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Richard Judd, 22 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23 Salesi Rayasi