The big guns are rumbling back for the Hurricanes, with All Blacks Victor Vito and Cory Jane returning to the starting lineup for Saturday's Super Rugby match against the Bulls in Napier.
Vito (knee) will don the No 8 jersey for his first match of the season while Jane returns to the right wing after an ankle injury. And in more positive fitness news, loose forward Brad Shields (knee) makes his first appearance of the year on the bench.
Both Vito and Shields suffered their injuries in the pre-season and their respective returns bolster the Hurricanes pack against the seventh-placed Bulls who drew with the Chiefs in Pretoria on Sunday.
Shields and Blade Thomson provide loose forward cover on the bench, meaning no room for last year's All Blacks tourist Ardie Savea.
Alapati Leiua, who scored the matchwinning try against the Crusaders on Friday, shifts to second five-eighth for the injured Tim Bateman. The latter suffered a shoulder injury in his return match in Christchurch.
There is also doubt in the front row, with prop Jeff Toomaga-Allen bracketed with John Schwalger after suffering a head knock against the Crusaders.
Toomaga-Allen will be monitored for the remainder of the week to determine whether he is fit to play on Saturday. If not, his starting spot will go to Schwalger, and Reggie Goodes - returning from a toe injury - will come on to the bench.
HURRICANES: Andre Taylor, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Alapati Leiua, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito, Jack Lam, Faifili Levave, James Broadhurst, Jeremy Thrush, Jeff Toomaga-Allen/John Schwalger, Dane Coles, Ben Franks. Reserves: Ash Dixon, Chris Eves, Schwalger/Reggie Goodes, Blade Thomson, Brad Shields, Billy Guyton, Hadleigh Parkes, Marty Banks.
- The Dominion Post
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