Hurricanes skipper Dane Coles has been ruled out the Super Rugby clash with the Blues at Eden Park due to a calf injury.
However, the Hurricanes’ bid for their first win of the season on Friday as been boosted by the return of wingers Nehe Milner-Skudder and Cory Jane.
Milner-Skudder will start on the right wing after recovering from the bruised knee that kept him out of the Hurricanes’ last match, while Jane has passed his concussion testing and will make his impact from the bench.
Young hooker Leni Apisai will start his third match in the No.2 jersey, while halfback TJ Perenara will again captain the side.
Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said the decision to rest Coles for another match hadn’t been difficult.
“It’s a long season and we aren’t going to take any chances with Dane at this stage, so even though he’s close we’ve decided to err on the side of caution and make sure he’s 100 per cent,” he said.
Boyd admits the pressure is on his team as they hunt their first win of the season.
After opening losses to the Brumbies and the Highlanders, last year’s beaten finalists sit bottom of the New Zealand conference and desperately need a win to kickstart their campaign.
Injuries aside, Boyd says his team have shown encouraging improvement after their opening 52-10 loss to the Brumbies, despite being edged 17-16 by the Highlanders last week in Dunedin.
“This conference is so tough, there’s just nowhere to relax – one week after the next you’ve just got to keep putting the performance on,” he said.
“You need to win every week in this competition, to be honest.”