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Coles returns as Hurricanes change four for Highlanders

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Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd has named a Super Rugby team to play the Hurricanes in Wellington with captain Dane Coles and lock Michael Fatialofa returning to the side.

Both Coles and Fatialofa have successfully completed concussion protocols and have been included in a strong line up.

In addition the five players who were stood down for the Hurricanes last match against the Reds for missing a team curfew in South Africa return to the fold with loose forwards Victor Vito and Ardie Savea, as well as wings Julian Savea and Cory Jane back in the starting fifteen, and prop Chris Eves among the reserves.

“This was a very tough team to select,” Boyd said after settling on his match day 23.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who are fit and in form at the moment, which is great, but makes things tough for the coaches when it comes to naming the team.”

In total there are four changes to the team that started in a bonus point 29-14 win over the Reds before Hurricanes bye week.

Vito’s return at No 8 sees Blade Thomson return to the second row meaning Vaea Fifita returns to an impact role from the reserves, while openside Ardie Savea pushes Callum Gibbins to the bench.

Wings Julian Savea and Cory Jane take the place of Wes Goosen and Jason Woodward respectively, the latter taking his place among a reserves bench, which also feature the return of halfback Jamison Gibson Park in place of Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi. Eves provides impact from the bench where he has edged out Ben May.

Boyd expects the match to be a big occasion for all concerned with both teams part of a close race to make the Super Rugby playoffs.

“All indications are there will be a big crowd at Westpac Stadium and that really pumps up the guys to perform in front of their home fans. It adds a real edge and nobody is under any illusion that this is an important match for both teams. We are really looking forward to what will no doubt be a tough challenge from a quality Highlanders unit.”

Friday’s match represents a replay of last year’s Super Rugby final, which was won 21-14 by the Highlanders.

Hurricanes

15 James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Vince Aso, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (vc), 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Blade Thomson, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (c), 1 Reggie Goodes

Replacements: Motu Matu’u, Chris Eves, Lonu Uhila, Vaea Fifita, Callum Gibbins, Jamison Gibson Park, Ngani Laumape, Jason Woodward.

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