The Hurricanes will be short on box office talent when they meet the Blues in Masterton on Saturday.
Coach Mark Hammett has flooded his 27-strong squad with wider training group members, for the first of two pre-season matches the Hurricanes have scheduled.
The loose forward trio looms as the strongest area of Saturday's side, with Brad Shields at No 8 and Ardie Savea and Jack Lam on the flanks. Savea will be champing at the bit to get some rugby, having gone on the All Blacks' end-of-season tour as a non-playing apprentice.
The starting front row of Chris Eves, Joe Royal and Brendon Edmonds are all novices at this level and will no doubt make way for John Schwalger, Motu Matu'u and Adrian Barone at some stage.
Tasman points machine Marty Banks will run the team from first five-eighth, with new Southland recruit Cardiff Vaega partnering the experienced Tim Bateman in midfield. Wing Matt Proctor gets a chance to show his immense talent, but is another who might find his Super Rugby appearances are limited once Julian Savea, Cory Jane and Alapati Leiua are available.
Former Blues midfield back Hadleigh Parkes is on the bench, along with Andre Taylor.
- The Dominion Post
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