No 9 Perenara dropped to Hurricanes' bench

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 14:05 13/03/2014
TJ Perenara
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
BENCHED: Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara has lost his starting spot to Chris Smylie.

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Halfback TJ Perenara has been dropped to the reserves in the latest twist to the Hurricanes dramatic start to Super Rugby.

Chris Smylie will get a rare start in the No 9 jersey against the Cheetahs on Saturday in the most notable of six changes to the side that started the 29-21 loss to the Brumbies.

Wing Cory Jane has been ruled out with a broken nose handing Alapati Leiua a start on the left wing, while dynamic openside Ardie Savea finally cracks the starting side in a rejigged loose trio that features the return of blindside Faifili Levave for Adanm Hill, who drops out of the squad.

Levave missed the last match due to concussion, while second five-eighth Hadleigh Parkes has recovered from a shoulder injury to replace Cardiff Vaega in the midfield.

The other change to the starting side sees Jeffery Toomaga-Allen return at tight head prop pushing John Schwalger to the reserves.

Coach Mark Hammett will be hoping the reshuffle can spark his side after three straight losses, but his thinking will spark plenty of debate.

Savea's selection means so-far outstanding loose forward Jack Lam drops to the reserves along with Schwalger, whose scrummaging has been one of the bright spots of the opening three weeks.

"Jack Lam has had three very physical encounters, so we're looking to take him out of the early battle exchanges this week. It's good that we can do that, and give someone like Ardie a start as well," Hammett said.  

"The thinking is similar between John and Jeff. There's not much that separates those two, and John also provides cover for both tighthead and loosehead, which we'll look to utilise throughout the season."

Hammett said bringing Perenara off the bench would give him the opportunity to work on a few technical components of his game that had been reviewed during the week.

There is no doubt Perenara's passing and kicking games were well below par against the Brumbies, but his form in the opening two matches was strong and his sudden demotion to the reserves is a gamble.

Jane's injury allows wing/fullback Matt Proctor to come on to the bench after missing the start of the season with an ankle injury.

The match will be captain Conrad Smith's 100th cap for the Hurricanes, a milestone the 32-year-old said he never dreamed of reaching.

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"When I played that first game in 2004, very few would have guessed I'd reach this point. It's such an honour and I treasure every opportunity I get to wear the swirl and represent the team I love."

Meanwhile, Cheethas coach Naka Drotske has made three personnel changes including a positional shift to the side that started the 43-33 loss to the Reds in Brisbane.

Halfback Sarel Pretorius comes in ahead of Shaun Venter, while there is a new back three with Willie le Roux moving from wing to fullback and Raymond Rhule and Cornal Hendricks starting out on the flanks.

Fullback Hennie Danniller moves to the reserves where he is joined by Andries Ferreira.

Kick-off is at Westpac Stadium at 4.35pm.

HURRICANES: James Marshall, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith (c), Hadleigh Parkes, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Chris Smylie, Blade Thomson, Ardie Savea, Faifili Levave, Mark Reddish, Jeremy Thrush, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles, Ben Franks. Reserves: Motu Matu'u, Chris Eves, John Schwalger, James Broadhurst, Jack Lam, TJ Perenara, Matt Proctor, Marty Banks

CHEETAHS: Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, Johann Sadie, Francois Venter, Raymond Rhule, Johan Goosen, Sarel Pretorius, Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagne, Boom Prinsloo, Francois Uys, Lodewyk de Jager, Maks van Dyk, Adriaan Strauss (c ), Caylib Ooshuizen. Reserves: Ryno Barnes, Trevor Nyakane, Rossouw de Klerk, Andries Ferreira, Jean Cook, Shaun Venter, Elgar Watts, Hennie Daniller

- Fairfax Media

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