Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd is relaxed about the two changes forced on his starting team to face the Waratahs in Sydney.
Centre Willis Halaholo and prop Chris Eves are introduced for just their third start each this season in Saturday’s crucial clash.
They replace centre Vince Aso (calf) and one-Test prop Jeff Toomaga-Allen (broken arm), who were injured during last week’s 37-27 win over the Blues.
Toomaga-Allen is out for three months, opening the door for Eves to play out the rest of the season at tighthead prop, having made his two previous starts on the loosehead side.
“Chris did a great job for us against the Blues when he came on early in the match and Willis has been a really effective impact player all season, so I’m very comfortable with both of those changes,” Boyd said.
Experienced prop Ben May and midfielder Ngani Laumape, who has recovered from a groin strain, are promoted to the reserves. Openside flanker Callum Gibbins is also back on the bench after shaking off concussion symptoms.
Hooker Motu Matu’u remains out with an arm injury while the Hurricanes learned this week that lock Blade Thomson is out for the season with a badly dislocated shoulder.
The Hurricanes are third in a tightly-packed New Zealand conference two weeks out from the end of the regular season.
He says the players are aware every point is important but realise the Waratahs will be equally motivated to head off the Brumbies in the Australian conference, with the two teams level as co-leaders.
Hurricanes: James Marshall, Cory Jane, Matt Proctor, Willis Halaholo, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Michael Fatialofa, Vaea Fifita, Chris Eves, Dane Coles (capt), Reggie Goodes. Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Ben May, Loni Uhila, Mark Abbott, Callum Gibbins, Jamison Gibson Park, Ngani Laumape, Jason Woodward.