PREVIEW: Hurricanes v Chiefs

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Thursday, June 8, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

ROUND 16: Hurricanes v Chiefs, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, July 9, 2017

The Hurricanes go into their return game against the Chiefs with a 100 percent winning record at home for the season and have reached this point with one win more than their rivals. It will be worth their while to keep it that way because it will give them a better chance of less travel during the play-offs. In their 29 clashes over the years the Hurricanes have won 15, the Chiefs 13 with one drawn. Earlier this year it was the Chiefs who claimed a 26-18 win in Hamilton.

Making his 100th appearance for the side, wing Julian Savea becomes the 10th Hurricane to reach the milestone and it is esteemed company he is in: Tana Umaga, Rodney So'oialo, Andrew Hore, Neemia Tialata, Jeremy Thrush, Ma'a Nonu, Victor Vito, Conrad Smith and Cory Jane. It is difficult to believe, for a player who has been such a prolific tryscorer for the All Blacks, that it took him 16 games to score his first Super Rugby try. However, in the 83 games since he has scored 45 tries.

At this time of the season selection becomes more tactical than ever as sides look to keep key personnel on hand for vital games. As a result Chiefs coach Dave Rennie heads to Wellington forced to play without ace lock Brodie Retallick in his side and Michael Allardice will fill his position. Second five-eighths Charlie Ngatai is back while Solomon Alaimalo has been given the task of playing on the right wing with Toni Pulu and Tim Nanai-Williams unable to be considered. Meanwhile, Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd has brought back Chris Eves and Jeffery Toomaga-Allen for the front row while Leni Apisai has been given his first start of the season ahead of Ricky Riccitelli. No.8 Ardie Savea is back after recovering from injury which allows Brad Shields to return to the blindside. Nehe Milner-Skudder's successful return in Perth has seen him given a start at Cory Jane's expense while on the bench Matt Proctor is back in action after nearly two months out with concussion.


Hurricanes: 1.Chris Eves, 2.Leni Apisai, 3.Jeff To'omaga-Allen, 4.Sam Lousi, 5.Vaea Fifita, 6.Brad Shields, 7.Callum Gibbins, 8.Ardie Savea, 9.TJ Perenara (captain), 10.Beauden Barrett, 11.Julian Savea, 12.Ngani Laumape, 13.Vince Aso, 14.Nehe Milner-Skudder, 15.Jordie Barrett.

Substitutes: 16.Ricky Riccitelli/James O'Reilly, 17.Loni Uhila, 18.Mark Kainga, 19.Mark Abbott, 20.Reed Prinsep, 21.Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22.Matt Proctor, 23.Wes Goosen.

Chiefs: 1.Kane Hames, 2.Nathan Harris, 3.Nepo Laulala, 4.Dominic Bird, 5.Michael Allardice, 6.Mitchell Brown, 7.Sam Cane (co-captain), 8.Liam Messam, 9.Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 10.Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 11.James Lowe, 12.Charlie Ngatai, 13.Anton Lienert-Brown. 14.Solomon Alaimalo, 15.Damian McKenzie.

Substitutes: 16.Liam Polwart, 17.Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 18.Atu Moli, 19.Tom Sanders, 20.Lachlan Boshier, 21.Finlay Christie, 22.Alex Nankivell, 23.Shaun Stevenson.