18 Mar 2010

Hurricanes coach axes several senior players for clash with Bulls

6:47 pm on 18 March 2010

The All Blacks halfback Piri Weepu is among five senior players to have felt the selectors' wrath as the Hurricanes look to right their Super 14 season against the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday morning.

Weepu has been dropped to the bench with coach Colin Cooper making six changes to the starting side that was crushed 37-13 by the Stormers in Cape Town last weekend.

Openside flanker Scott Waldrom has been left out of the squad altogether, while lock Bryn Evans, wing David Smith and prop Jacob Ellison have been relegated to the reserves.

In the backs the Canterbury halfback Tyson Keats takes Weepu's place at halfback, Wellington's Alapati Leiua moves onto the left wing for Smith and recent Taranaki signing Andre Taylor replaces the injured Cory Jane at fullback.

In the forwards Wellington's Jeremy Thrush gets his first start of the year at lock, Karl Lowe replaces Waldrom at openside, and John Schwalger returns at loosehead prop for Ellison.

Cooper warned his senior players after the Stormers loss they would be held accountable for their lacklustre and ill-disciplined performance and he delivered on his promise.

Hurricanes Team: Andre Taylor, Tamati Ellison, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Alapati Leiua, Willie Ripia, Tyson Keats, Rodent So'oialo, Karl Lowe, Victor Vito, Michael Paterson, Jeremy Thrush, Neemia Tialata, Andrew Hore (c), John Schwalger. Reserves: Dane Coles, Jacob Ellison, Bryn Evans, Nick Crosswell, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, David Smith.