PREVIEW: Hurricanes v Brumbies
Thursday, February 25, 2016 allblacks.com Getty Images
ROUND ONE: Hurricanes v Brumbies, 9.40pm, Friday 26 February, Canberra Stadium
TALE OF THE TAPE
The Hurricanes face a Brumbies side which is very hard to topple in the Australian capital. The Brumbies have made Canberra a fortress by winning 13 of their last 16 fixtures in the city. The Brumbies also have the edge in the head-to-head battle with 12 wins to the Hurricanes 9. The Hurricanes have recent form though with a 29-9 win over the Brumbies in 2015.
In Nehe Milner-Skudder, Julian Savea and Cory Jane, the Hurricanes boast what is potentially the most destructive back three in Super Rugby. Savea and Milner-Skudder showed their try-scoring prowess at the Rugby World Cup last year while Jane was unlucky to miss out on the All Blacks squad. Now the three have been reunited, expected fireworks during the Super Rugby campaign.
Fresh from starring for the All Blacks Sevens during their tournament victories in Wellington and Sydney, Ardie Savea is back in the seven jersey for the Hurricanes. Noted as one of the most explosive ball-runners in New Zealand rugby, Savea has developed his loose forward play and is now a skilled turnover expert and pillar in the contact area.
LENI GETS A START
After injuries to Dane Coles and Motu Matu’u, 19-year-old hooker Leni Apsai has been called up for his first Hurricanes start. As far as debuts go, they don’t get much tougher than this. The young Porirua-born rake will square off against Wallabies captain Stephen Moore. Apasai has performed strongly for Wellington in the ITM Cup and will need to be on top of his game to match it with the seasoned veteran Moore.
With the Jaguares making their Super Rugby debut this weekend, there is one Argentinian star who will be pulling on the Brumbies jersey instead. Tomas Cubelli starred for Argentina during their strong Rugby World Cup campaign and will be a suitable replacement for former halfback Nic White. Noted for his sniping runs around the base of the ruck, TJ Perenara will have to be extra vigilant on defence.
15: Nehe Milner-Skudder 14: Cory Jane 13: Vince Aso 12: Ngani Laumape 11: Julian Savea 10: Beauden Barrett 9: TJ Perenara (C) 8: Victor Vito 7: Ardie Savea 6: Brad Shields 5: Mark Abbott 4: Blade Thomson 3: Jeff To’omaga-Allen 2: Leni Apisai 1: Reggie Goodes
Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves, Loni Uhila, Vaea Fifita, Callum Gibbins, Jamison Gibson-Park, Otere Black, Willis Halaholo
15: Aidan Toua 14: Henry Speight 13: Tevita Kuridrani 12: Matt Toomua 11: Joe Tomane 10: Christian Lealiifano 9: Tomas Cubelli 8: Ita Vaea 7: David Pocock 6: Scott Fardy 5: Sam Carter 4: Rory Arnold 3: Ben Alexander 2: Stephen Moore © 1: Allan Alaalatoa
Reserves: Josh Mann-Rea, Scott Sio, Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, Jordan Smiler, Jarrad Butler, Michael Dowsett, Andrew Smith, Nigel Ah Wong
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