Lock Thomson back for Hurricanes

Lock Blade Thomson’s return from injury is the only change to the Hurricanes’ starting side to face Super Rugby leaders the Chiefs in Wellington.

Thomson, who missed the 38-13 bonus-point win over Melbourne Rebels because of a bruised knee, replaces Vaea Fifita, who will be used off the bench on Saturday night.

Coach Chris Boyd says the settled line-up reflects the strong display against the Rebels.

“We are building a lot of competition in the squad through performance and there were some tough calls when it came to selection,” he said.

“But this group got the job done away from home last week and there weren’t any compelling reasons to make too many changes.”

Boyd has been able to strengthen his bench, with openside flanker Callum Gibbins, halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi and utility back James Marshall all having overcome injuries.

The Chiefs, who are coming off a bye, are four points ahead of the Hurricanes and Boyd said he wouldn’t have to say a lot to his players.

“The team knows this is a big match and the Chiefs’ form and team sheet speak for themselves,” he said.

“They are a well-coached side that poses threats across the park. We will have to be at our best at both ends of the park if we want to compete.”

Hurricanes: Jason Woodward, Cory Jane, Matt Proctor, Vince Aso, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Michael Fatialofa, Blade Thomson, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles (capt), Reggie Goodes. Reserves: Motu Matu’u, Chris Eves, Loni Uhila, Vaea Fifita, Callum Gibbins, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, James Marshall, Willis Halaholo.

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