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Super Rugby Preview: Hurricanes vs Blues

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Friday, June 14, 2019    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Match details: Hurricanes v Blues, 7.35pm, Saturday 15 June, Westpac Stadium, Wellington. TICKETS.

Played: 31
Won: Hurricanes 16, Blues 1
Drawn: 1
Last time: Hurricanes 22, Blues 12 (10 May 2019)
Referee: Glen Jackson

ALL BLACKS STARS BACK
Great news for both teams with All Blacks stars Dane Coles and Sonny Bill Williams back in their respective starting line-ups following long injury layoffs. Coles made a superb return for the Hurricanes last week with two tries off the bench against the Lions and will captain the side in his first start since being injured early in the competition. Sonny Bill Williams said he is back to full fitness and looking forward to pulling on the 12 jersey for the first time since round eight. "The body's good, I'm ready to go. It's been a long process with this injury but I've put all my faith in Allah. The time is right now."

QUICK TAP: HURRICANES TAKE STOCK OF RESOURCES FOR BLUES

ROOKIES CHANCE TO SHINE
With a home quarterfinal locked in for next week, it is a real eye to the future for the Hurricanes this week with coach John Plumtree making wholesale changes to the match day 23. All Blacks Beauden and Jordie Barrett and Ngani Laumape sit out the match altogether with TJ Perenara and Ardie Savea starting from the bench. The backline has a real rookie feel to it with Richard Judd, Salesi Rayasi, Danny Toala and Peter Umaga-Jensen all securing rare starts for the Hurricanes. The four players have shown immense potential in their previous appearances for the Hurricanes and will be relishing a chance to showcase their value in the starting line-up.

LOOSE FORWARD BATTLE
Despite occupying the wooden spoon position in the New Zealand conference, the Blues boast a powerful loose forward trio that will look to assert its dominance on the new Hurricanes combination of Gareth Evans, Du Plessis Kirifi and Reed Prinsep. The breakdown zone will be hard fought with Blake Gibson and Dalton Papalii both skilled at turning the ball over and moving bodies in the collision area. Akira Ioane brings one of the most potent running games in all of Super Rugby to complete a classy loose forward trio.

THE SCOOP
The Blues have lost eight straight games to the Hurricanes since their last victory all the way back in 2014 and will be eyeing this as a huge chance to snap their losing streak given the amount of changes the Hurricanes have made to their line-up. With nothing to lose for either team, there is sure to be plenty of expansive play and positive rugby. The Blues should have the edge over what is a very inexperienced Hurricanes side.

TEAMS

Hurricanes:
James Marshall, Ben Lam, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Danny Toala, Salesi Rayasi, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Richard Judd, Gareth Evans, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Kane Le'aupepe, Ross Geldenhuys, Dane Coles (c), Fraser Armstrong.
Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Chris Eves, Alex Fidow, Liam Mitchell, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Fletcher Smith, Jonah Lowe.

Blues: Melani Nanai, Caleb Clarke, Tanielu Tele'a, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Otere Black, Augustine Pulu, Akira Ioane, Blake Gibson (capt), Dalton Papalii, Scott Scrafton, Patrick Tuipulotu, Marcel Renata, James Parsons, Alex Hodgman.
Reserves: Leni Apisai, Hisa Sasagi, Lua Li, Tom Robinson, Josh Goodhue, Jonathan Ruru, Harry Plummer, Ma'a Nonu.