Hurricanes records loom for Nonu, Thrush

All Blacks Ma’a Nonu and Jeremy Thrush will set Hurricanes records for longevity after being named for Friday’s Super Rugby match against the Crusaders in Nelson.

Evergreen centre Nonu will earn his 123rd cap for the runaway competition leaders, claiming the outright record for the most games from former midfield great Tana Umaga.

Lock Thrush, who like Nonu is heading overseas next season, will play his 106th game, moving level with former hooker Andrew Hore for the most by a Hurricanes forward.

Victory will guarantee the Hurricanes finish the season top of the table while the Crusaders must win to keep their slim play-off hopes alive.

There are four changes to the side who beat the Blues 29-5 in Auckland last week, the Hurricanes’ 12th win from 13 games which kept them 13 points clear at the top.

Centre Conrad Smith returns from a rest break to partner Nonu, replacing Rey Lee-Lo and reclaiming the captain’s armband from Thrush.

Prop Reggie Goodes returns from suspension and lock James Broadhurst from a knee niggle to usurp Chris Eves and Mark Abbott respectively.

Flanker Brad Shields replaces No.8 Victor Vito, meaning Blade Thomson switches to the back of the scrum.

All Blacks wing Cory Jane remains sidelined by a hamstring strain, resulting in the Hurricanes retaining their combination from last week of Nehe Milner-Skudder on the wing, James Marshall at fullback and 20-year-old Otere Black at five-eighth for his second start.

Prop Ben Franks returns from an achilles tendon niggle to the bench, handing him what will probably be his last chance to pack down against brother and fellow-All Black Owen Franks before taking up an English club contract next year.

Hurricanes: James Marshall, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Conrad Smith (capt), Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea, Otere Black, TJ Perenara, Blade Thomson, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, James Broadhurst, Jeremy Thrush, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles, Reggie Goodes. Reserves: Motu Matu’u, Ben May, Ben Franks, Mark Abbott, Victor Vito, Chris Smylie, Rey Lee-Lo, Matt Proctor.

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