Hurricanes select double openside flankers
Openside flankers Ardie Savea and Jack Lam will play together in a re-jigged Hurricanes loose trio against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday night.
The selection of the two tearaways is the feature of the side named today by coach Mark Hammett for the Hurricanes' first match against a New Zealand conference opponent.
Hammett has made three personnel changes and one positional shift to the side that started the 60-27 win over the Cheetahs, and another three in the reserves.
Two of the changes have been forced with Marty Banks coming in at fullback for an injured James Marshall (toe) and James Broadhurst at lock for Jeremy Thrush, who is unavailable due to a personal commitment.
All Black wing Cory Jane had recovered from the broken nose he suffered against the Brumbies, but was ruled out for the second week in a row after suffering an ankle injury in training yesterday.
Savea and Lam, both specialist opensides, finished the match against the Cheetahs strongly and will be given a chance to start against the Highlanders.
Outstanding blindside Faifili Levave shifts to No 8 in place of Blade Thomson, who can count himself unlucky after a strong start to the season including a solid first half before coming off injured against the Cheetahs.
A neck injury may prevent Thomson from taking his place on the bench against the Highlanders and he has been bracketed in the reserves with Adam Hill.
Banks returns to fullback after starting the opening two matches of the season in South Africa, while Broadhurst gets his first start in the second row alongside in-form Mark Reddish.
Chris Smylie is rewarded for his strong match against the Cheetahs with his second start at halfback, with TJ Perenara in the reserves.
The bench also features a first selection of the season for hooker Ash Dixon, who replaces Motu Matu'u, and for Andre Taylor, who will cover fullback, while Mark Abbott comes in to cover lock.
Hammett made special mention of the change in the reserves at hooker saying Matu'u would benefit more from an extended run with the development team than another cameo behind incumbent Dane Coles.
"We're fortunate in that we've got three very, very good hookers - it's probably one of the most competitive spots in the team," Hammett said.
"This week, we've decided to give Ash an opportunity, while we can also give Motu some decent game time for the development team."
Friday night's match kicks-off at Forsyth Barr Stadium at 7.35pm.
HURRICANES: Marty Banks, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith, Hadleigh Parkes, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Chris Smylie, Faifili Levave, Ardie Savea, Jack Lam, James Broadhurst, Mark Reddish, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles, Ben Franks. Reserves: Ash Dixon, Chris Eves, John Schwalger, Mark Abbott, Blade Thomson/Adam Hill, TJ Perenara, Matt Proctor, Andre Taylor