11 May 2017

'Tongan Bear' back for Canes

1:16 pm on 11 May 2017

The Hurricanes are calling upon the power of 'The Tongan Bear' from the bench for their all-kiwi blockbuster against the Crusaders on Saturday.

Hurricanes player Loni Uhila

Hurricanes player Loni Uhila Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Loose-head Loni Uhila has been named on the pine for the match in Christchurch, in what will be just his second match of the Super Rugby season.

A fan favorite in Wellington, the 28-year-old Uhila returns after six matches on the sidelines battling a persistent calf niggle.

The part-time boxer's only other 2017 appearance came in the side's round-three loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton, after playing a key role in their 2016 title win.

Uhila - who will head to French rugby with Clermont at the end of the season - has replaced Mike Kainga, who has dropped out of the matchday squad.

Chris Eves also reclaims the number one jumper from Ben May, who moves to the bench.

Elsewhere, loose forward Reed Prinsep is promoted to the starting 15 against his former side, forming a trio with number eight Brad Shields and openside Ardie Savea.

Prinsep made just the single appearance for the Crusaders in 2016 before heading north to join the defending champions, and has since played eight Super Rugby games.

Dane Coles remains out with concussion, while Nehe Milner-Skudder is yet to return from a broken bone in his foot.

The Hurricanes have won four of their past five matches against the Crusaders but are yet to play the Canterbury boys this season.