Jeremy Thrush will captain a Hurricanes team featuring five changes to face the Blues in Saturday’s Super Rugby clash at Eden Park.
With All Blacks centre Conrad Smith being rested for the game in Auckland, Thrush takes the reins for the competition leaders while Rey Lee-Lo starts at centre in the only backline change to the side that beat the Chiefs 22-18 last week.
Lee-Lo starts alongside Ma’a Nonu, who makes a milestone 122nd appearance for the Hurricanes
That equals the team’s record as their most capped player, level with another centre, Tana Umaga.
The Hurricanes’ front row has been completely overhauled.
All Blacks hooker Dane Coles will make his first start for nine weeks, having made a couple of bench appearances this month following battle with elbow and calf ailments.
He replaces Motu Matu’u and will pack down between Chris Eves and Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, who are both promoted from regular bench roles.
All Blacks prop Ben Franks has succumbed to an Achilles tendon injury while Reggie Goodes is serving a one-game suspension for a dangerous charge which ended the season for Chiefs lock Michael Allardice.
Coach Chris Boyd has been forced to call in Wellington prop Tolu Fahakokioa from outside his squad for a place on the bench.
Fahakokioa and back Willis Halaholo are both poised to make Super Rugby debuts if used as replacements.
Hurricanes: Nehe Milner-Skudder, Cory Jane, Rey Lee-Lo, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea, James Marshall, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito, Ardie Savea, Blade Thomson, James Broadhurst, Jeremy Thrush (capt), Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles, Chris Eves. Reserves: Motu Matu’u, Ben May, Tolu Fahamokioa, Mark Abbott/Callum Gibbins, Brad Shields, Chris Smylie, Otere Black, Willis Halaholo.