25 May 2016

Coles fit to lead Hurricanes

1:49 pm on 25 May 2016

Hurricanes captain Dane Coles and lock Michael Fatialofa have both been passed fit to play the Highlanders in their Super Rugby game in Wellington on Friday night.

Hurricanes captain Dane Coles receives treatment.

Hurricanes captain Dane Coles receives treatment. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Coles and Fatialofa both successfully completed concussion protocols this week and were part of a fully fit Hurricanes squad from which coach Chris Boyd could select his team.

The five players who were stood down for the Hurricanes last match against the Reds for missing a team curfew in South Africa return to the fold with loose forwards Victor Vito and Ardie Savea, as well as wings Julian Savea and Cory Jane back in the starting fifteen, and prop Chris Eves among the reserves.

"This was a very tough team to select," Boyd said after settling on his match day 23. "We've got a lot of guys who are fit and in form at the moment, which is great, but makes things tough for the coaches when it comes to naming the team."

In total there are four changes to the team that started in a bonus point 29-14 win over the Reds before Hurricanes bye week.

Vito's return at number eight means Blade Thomson returns to the second row meaning Vaea Fifita returns to an impact role from the reserves, while openside Ardie Savea pushes Callum Gibbins to the bench.

Wings Julian Savea and Cory Jane take the place of Wes Goosen and Jason Woodward respectively, the latter taking his place among a reserves bench, which also feature the return of halfback Jamison Gibson Park in place of Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi. Eves provides impact from the bench where he has edged out Ben May.

Boyd expects the match to be a big occasion for all concerned with both teams part of a close race to make the Super Rugby playoffs.

"All indications are there will be a big crowd at Westpac Stadium and that really pumps up the guys to perform in front of their home fans. It adds a real edge and nobody is under any illusion that this is an important match for both teams. We are really looking forward to what will no doubt be a tough challenge from a quality Highlanders unit."

Friday's match represents a replay of last year's Super Rugby final, which was won 21-14 by the Highlanders.

However, it is not the first time the two sides have met since with the Highlanders winning another close encounter 17-16 in Dunedin in round two this year.

Matches between the two clubs have been traditionally close with 15 of the last 16 games being decided by seven points or fewer.

The Hurricanes overall record against the Highlanders reads played 27, won 14, lost 13.

Hurricanes team to play the Highlanders at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Friday May 27:

15 James Marshall

14 Cory Jane

13 Matt Proctor

12 Vince Aso

11 Julian Savea

10 Beauden Barrett

9 TJ Perenara (vc)

8 Victor Vito

7 Ardie Savea

6 Brad Shields

5 Michael Fatialofa

4 Blade Thomson

3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen

2 Dane Coles (c)

1 Reggie Goodes

Reserves: Motu Matu'u, Chris Eves, Lonu Uhila, Vaea Fifita, Callum Gibbins, Jamison Gibson Park, Ngani Laumape, Jason Woodward.