2 Mar 2017

All Black trio back for Hurricanes first home clash

9:59 am on 2 March 2017

All Blacks Dane Coles, Beauden Barrett and Nehe Milner-Skudder have been named to start the Hurricanes first home match of the Super Rugby season against the Rebels in Wellington on Saturday.

Dane Coles celebrates the Hurricanes' Super Rugby final win over the Lions at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

Dane Coles celebrates the Hurricanes' Super Rugby final win over the Lions at Westpac Stadium in Wellington. Photo: PhotoSport

The star trio are among four personnel changes to the Hurricanes team that ran out against the Sunwolves, the other being the elevation of Reed Prinsep to No.8 in place of the injured Blade Thomson.

Hurricanes hooker and captain Coles and first-five Barrett swap places with Ricky Riccitelli and Otere Black respectively after coming off the bench during last weekend's 83-17 win in Tokyo.

Milner-Skudder has recovered from the hamstring strain that ruled him out of the season opener to replace Jordie Barrett at fullback.

Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd says the changes are part of a plan and not a reflection of the performances of Riccitelli, Black and Jordie Barrett.

"Dane and Beauden were always going to come back into the starting team and Nehe would have started round one if he'd been fit, so the selections certainly aren't form related.

"Blade Thomson dislocated his shoulder in Japan and is having scans to determine the severity of his injury, so Reed gets an early chance to stake a claim at the back of the scrum."

Boyd said the challenge for his team was to put their first up result behind them and prepare for what should be a stiffer test against the Rebels.

"We certainly took some positives away from our first match, but I think there is a realisation among the group that this week represents a big step up and we are expecting the Rebels to be highly motivated after their loss to the Blues.

"I know the players are really excited at the prospect of getting out in front of their home crowd for the first time this year."

There is one further personnel change to the Hurricanes match day 23 with lock Mark Abbott, who was unavailable for the trip to Japan due to a personal commitment, joining Riccitelli, Black and Jordie Barrett in the reserves.

Cory Jane is still unavailable due to injury.

When the team's last played, in 2016, the Hurricanes beat the Rebels 38-13 in Melbourne.

In total the clubs have played each other five times with the Hurricanes winning the last four.

The Rebels only win was in Melbourne in 2011.

The Hurricanes team is:

15 Nehe Milner-Skudder

14 Vince Aso

13 Matt Proctor

12 Ngani Laumape

11 Julian Savea

10 Beauden Barrett

9 TJ Perenara

8 Reed Prinsep

7 Ardie Savea

6 Brad Shields

5 Michael Fatialofa

4 James Blackwell

3 Jeffery To'omaga-Allen

2 Dane Coles (c)

1 Chris Eves

Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Ben May, Mike Kainga, Mark Abbott, Callum Gibbins, Chris Smylie, Otere Black, Jordie Barrett.