Savea benched for Hurricanes quarter-final

All Blacks winger Julian Savea has been dropped to the bench for the Hurricanes’ Super Rugby quarter-final clash against the Sharks in Wellington on Saturday.

Coach Chris Boyd has made three changes to his starting team, with Matt Proctor’s return at centre from a hamstring strain pushing Jason Woodward out to the left wing in Savea’s place.

In the other two changes, props Loni Uhila and Ben May come into the front row.

Uhila starts at loosehead prop in place of Reggie Goodes, who is unavailable after suffering concussion during last weekend’s 35-10 defeat of the Crusaders in Christchurch.

It will be Uhila’s first start of the season after 12 previous appearances off the reserves bench, while May also makes his first start of 2016 after eight appearances as a substitute.

Boyd said team selection had presented some tough choices.

“We’ve got some real depth and at the end of the day we pick the team on form and what we think is best for the team.

“Loni Uhila, Jason Woodward and Willis Halaholo were all very good against the Crusaders and they’ve forced our hand for this match.”

Bay of Plenty prop Mike Kainga, a member of the Chiefs Super Rugby squad in 2013, takes his place on the reserves bench as an injury replacement for front-line props Jeffery Toomaga-Allen (broken arm), Hisa Sasagi (calf strain) and Goodes.

Vince Aso has also shaken off a calf strain and has been named in the reserves.

Hurricanes: James Marshall, Cory Jane, Matt Proctor, Willis Halaholo, Jason Woodward, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Michael Fatialofa, Vaea Fifita, Ben May, Dane Coles (captain), Loni Uhila.

Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves, Mike Kainga, Mark Abbott, Callum Gibbins, Jamison Gibson Park, Vince Aso, Julian Savea.

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