Super Rugby

Hurricanes shuffle midfield for Crusaders

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Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd has made two changes to his starting line up for this weekend’s crucial final round Super Rugby match against the Crusaders in Christchurch.

The Hurricanes changes are in the midfield where Ngani Laumape joins Willis Halaholo in the starting fifteen.

Laumape has been promoted from the bench to start at second five with Halaholo shifting out one spot to centre for the final round of the Super Rugby regular season at AMI Stadium.

The Hurricanes rejig comes after regular centre Matt Proctor was ruled out with the hamstring strain that forced him off the field early in last weekend’s win over the Waratahs in Sydney. Proctor’s regular midfield partner Vince Aso remains sidelined with a calf strain.

It will be Laumape’s first start since running out against the Sharks five weeks ago, while Halaholo will make his twelfth appearance and fourth start of the campaign.

The two Tongans have previously started together twice in the midfield this season, against the Kings and Jaguares, and played the majority of last weekend’s 28-17 win over the Waratahs.

Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd was more than comfortable the combination would perform well against the Crusaders.

“They haven’t had a huge amount of time together as a midfield pairing, but they have both been heavily involved all season, so I don’t think they will have any problems coming together this week.

“Willis has been in good form for us all season, he’s got good footwork and a good passing game and Ngani is very powerful, so it’s potentially an exciting duo.”

The only other change to the squad is on the reserves bench where Wes Goosen takes Laumape’s place as midfield cover. It will be Goosen’s first appearance since he scored a try with his first touch in Investec Super Rugby against the Reds four weeks ago.

The Hurricanes have already qualified for the Super Rugby playoffs and with a bonus point win over the Crusaders could still win the New Zealand Conference and earn a home quarterfinal at Westpac Stadium next weekend.

However, win or lose, Boyd won’t immediately know where his team are heading for the playoffs, or whom they are playing, with their fate dependent on other results.

The final playoff schedule won’t be known until after the Lions play the Jaguares on Sunday in the final match of the Super Rugby regular season.

Matt Proctor (hamstring), Vince Aso (calf), Blade Thomson (shoulder), Nehe Milner-Skudder (shoulder), Jeffery Toomaga-Allen (broken arm), Motu Matu’u (broken arm) were unavailable for selection as they are on the injured list.

Hurricanes

15 James Marshall , 14 Cory Jane , 13 Willis Halaholo , 12 Ngani Laumape , 11 Julian Savea , 10 Beauden Barrett , 9 TJ Perenara (vc) , 8 Victor Vito , 7 Ardie Savea , 6 Brad Shields , 5 Michael Fatialofa , 4 Vaea Fifita , 3 Chris Eves , 2 Dane Coles (c) , 1 Reggie Goodes

Replacements : Ricky Riccitelli, Ben May, Loni Uhila, Mark Abbott, Callum Gibbins, Jamison Gibson Park, Wes Goosen, Jason Woodward.

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