Conrad Smith's return to Super Rugby is one of four changes to a re-jigged Hurricanes staring fifteen named to play the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday night.
With the Hurricanes playoff hopes now resting on the side winning its remaining four matches, coach Mark Hammett has made some tough calls during the team’s bye week.
Senior players, second five eighth Tim Bateman and lock Jason Eaton, have paid the price for the team’s flagging fortunes with the pair dropping out of the match day 22.
Reynold Lee-Lo is rewarded for a strong showing at centre against the Chiefs as Hammett looks for more punch in the midfield.
Lee-Lo will play at second five eighth alongside Smith who returns to action a month after suffering a severe concussion during a heavy defeat to the Bulls in Pretoria. Likewise hooker Dane Coles returns after recovering from a fractured cheekbone suffered against the Force six weeks ago with Ash Dixon dropping to the reserves.
Lock James Broadhurst finally gets a chance to showcase his athleticism at lock alongside Jeremy Thrush with Mark Reddish providing cover.
Brad Shields relcaims his starting spot at blindside with Faifili Levave returning to an impact role on the reserves.
‘‘Both Dane and Conrad have recovered well and are looking forward to getting back onto the field for this match,’’ Hammett said.
‘‘There were some tough calls this week, but Rey has worked hard in the past few weeks, stepping up in Conrad’s absence so he gets another opportunity in the midfield.
‘‘We also get an opportunity to give James [Broadhurst] a start with Jeremy [Thrush] in the locking combination. Jason has played a lot of minutes this year and Broady has had some solid performances off the bench.”
Openside Jack Lam has recovered well after injuring his knee in training and provided he gets through a fitness test tomorrow will take his place in the No 7 jersey.
Hurricanes: Andre Taylor, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith (c), Reynold Lee-Lo, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito, Jack Lam, Brad Shields, James Broadhurst, Jeremy Thrush, Ben May, Dane Coles, Ben Franks. Reserves: Ash Dixon, Reggie Goodes, Mark Reddish, Faifili Levave, Chris Smylie, Tusi Pisi, James Marshall
- The Dominion Post
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