The Hurricanes have announced their side that is set to host the Blues in their season opener this Saturday at Westpac Stadium.
The line-up for the Hurricanes has a consistent look from their 2012 squad, with few changes to note.
Ben Franks will make his debut in Hurricanes colours at loosehead prop, meanwhile Ben May will take the tighthead side with Reggie Goodes on the bench.
Jeffery Toomaga-Allen has been side-lined due to a head knock he received at the pre-season match in Mangatainoka but will be re-assessed early next week. Alapati Leiua steps into the right wing spot with Cory Jane out for the season. Matt Proctor also received a head knock that has ruled him out this weekend.
On the bench will be three possible new caps, with Ash Dixon the back-up hooker, James Marshall in as utility back in the 21 jersey, and Reynold Lee-Lo a midfield option in number 22.
Not considered for selection this week due to injury includes Samisoni Fisilau (hamstring), Jack Lam (knee), Motu Matu’u (pectoral), Jeffery Toomaga-Allen (head knock), Matt Proctor (head knock) and Eric Sione (shoulder).
The Hurricanes produced some sintilating rugby in 2012 but it was too infrequent to give them a full shot at the title. With a squad very similar to that of last season plus a couple great additions this could mean that this season is the one where they challenge for higher honours.
With a team like the Chiefs not looking quite as strong as last season the Hurricanes will back their chances to be alongside the Crusaders come the end of the round-robin phase of the season.
Hurricanes: 1 Ben Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 3 Ben May, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 5 Jason Eaton, 6 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 8 Brad Shields, 9 TJ Perenara, 10 Beauden Barrett, 11 Julian Savea, 12 Tim Bateman, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 14 Alapati Leiua, 15 Andre Taylor.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Reggie Goodes, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 James Marshall, 22 Reynold Lee-Lo.
Date: Saturday, February 23
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.30 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Nick Briant (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
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