Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd has made a tough call in midfield and resisted the temptaion to start Nehe Milner-Skudder for this weekend’s Super Rugby game against the Lions in Wellington.
With the level of competition for places in the Hurricanes playing squad continuing to intensify, Boyd had some difficult decisions to make when finalising his combinations to face the South Africa outfit at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.
In the end, Boyd has made four changes to the starting side which beat the Sunwolves 43-15 last weekend, the most notable being the return of Ngani Laumape.
The All Blacks wrecking-ball is back from a week’s break in the No 12 jersey has meant the in-form Vince Aso move out of the 23-man squad.
Boyd did, though, stress Aso would be right back in the mix as the Hurricanes negotiate a difficult few weeks before the international playing window.
Laumape’s return is the only change in the backs, with 2015 World Cup star Milner-Skudder remaining in a bench role after making his return from a prolonged injury layoff against the Sunwolves.
In the forwards, Boyd has opted for three changes, with prop Jeff Toomaga-Allen swapping places with Ben May.
There has been a similar switch in the loose forwards, where Gareth Evans comes in for Reed Prinsep and Vaea Fifita returns to the second row after a week off.
The only other alteration to the match-day 23 comes in the reserves, with Ihaia West coming in for Jackson Garden-Bachop.
Saturday’s match, a repeat of the 2016 Super Rugby final, as well as last year’s semifinal, will be significant for centre Matt Proctor who will make his 50th appearance for the Hurricanes.
Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Julian Savea, Matt Proctor, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Beauden Barrett, Finlay Christie, Gareth Evans, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields (c), Michael Fatialofa, Vaea Fifita, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Toby Smith. Reserves: James O’Reilly, Chris Eves, Ben May, Sam Lousi, Reed Prinsep, Jamie Booth, Ihaia West, Nehe Milner-Skudder.