Shields earns start for 'Canes' season-opener

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 21/02/2013
Brad Shields
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
STARTING: Brad Shields is starting at the back of the Hurricanes' scrum for the franchise's opening Super Competition game against the Blues this Saturday.

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Brad Shields' selection at the back of the Hurricanes scrum is the feature of coach Mark Hammett's side to play the Blues on Saturday.

The 21-year-old has played just half an hour of competitive rugby since suffering a serious knee injury seven months ago.

The conservative option for the Hurricanes' season-opening Super Rugby match would have been to start Victor Vito at No 8 and Faifili Levave at blindside.

But Hammett saw enough in 30 minutes of the trial game against the Chiefs in Mangatainoka last Saturday to entrust Shields with starting duties at Westpac Stadium.

"I thought Brad had a huge game," Hammett said after the 25-21 loss.

Shields was injured while playing for Wellington last year and had surgery to remove a chunk of bone and cartilage in his knee cap.

With Vito at No 6, Karl Lowe completes the loose forward trio by default thanks to Ardie Savea's suspension and Jack Lam's unavailability due to injury.

Prop Jeffery Toomaga-Allen and winger Matt Proctor were not considered after suffering concussion against the Chiefs.

Ben May, a consistent performer last season, will start at tighthead prop while Alapati Leiua gets the nod on the right wing.

All Blacks prop Ben Franks will make his Hurricanes debut at loosehead while there are three possible new caps on the bench in hooker Ash Dixon, utility back James Marshall and midfielder Reynold Lee-Lo.

Other players not considered for selection were Samisoni Fisilau (hamstring), Motu Matu'u (pectoral) and Eric Sione (shoulder).

HOW THEY LINE UP

Hurricanes: Andre Taylor, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith (c), Tim Bateman, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Brad Shields, Karl Lowe, Victor Vito, Jason Eaton, Jeremy Thrush, Ben May, Dane Coles, Ben Franks.

Reserves: Ash Dixon, Reggie Goodes, Mark Reddish, Faifili Levave, Chris Smylie, James Marshall, Reynold Lee-Lo.

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