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Hurricanes Make Three Changes for Quarter Final Against Sharks

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Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd has made three changes to the starting XV for Saturday’s Investec Super Rugby quarterfinal against the Sharks at Westpac Stadium.

There is one change in the backline where Matt Proctor has recovered from a hamstring strain to take his place at centre, and two in the pack where props Loni Uhila and Ben May come into the front row.

Proctor’s return sees Jason Woodward shift out to the left wing in place of Julian Savea, who moves to the reserves. Uhila starts at loosehead prop in place of Reggie Goodes, who was unavailable for selection after leaving the field with concussion during the final match of the regular season against the Crusaders in Christchurch last weekend.

It will be Uhila’s first start of the season after making 12 previous appearances off the reserves bench, while May also makes his first start of 2016 after eight appearances as a substitute.

After wearing the No 3 jersey against the Crusaders, Chris Eves return to an impact role from a reserves bench that features an injury replacement in the form of former New Zealand Maori prop Mike Kainga and the return of midfielder Vince Aso from a calf strain.

“We had some tough choices, but we believe we’ve picked the best team to play the Sharks,” Boyd said. “We’ve got some real depth and at the end of the day we pick the team on form and what we think is best for the team. Loni Uhila, Jason Woodward and Willis Halaholo were all very good against the Crusaders and they’ve forced our hand for this match.”

Bay of Plenty prop Kainga, a member of the Chiefs Super Rugby squad in 2013, is eligible for the Hurricanes due to injuries to front line props Jeffery Toomaga-Allen (broken arm), Hisa Sasagi (calf strain) and Goodes.

The Hurricanes and Sharks played each other once during the regular season with South Africans winning 32-15 in Durban.

The Hurricanes earned home advantage for the quarterfinal after winning the New Zealand Conference and topping the competition ladder with a record of 11 wins and four losses.

The Sharks earned a wildcard berth in the playoffs after finishing third in the South African Conference behind the Lions and Stormers, and eighth overall on the competition ladder with a record of nine wins and five losses.

Hurricanes team to play the Sharks at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, Saturday, July 23:

15 James Marshall
14 Cory Jane
13 Matt Proctor
12 Willis Halaholo
11 Jason Woodward
10 Beauden Barrett
9 TJ Perenara (vc)
8 Victor Vito
7 Ardie Savea
6 Brad Shields
5 Michael Fatialofa
4 Vaea Fifita
3 Ben May
2 Dane Coles (c)
1 Loni Uhila

Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves, Mike Kainga, Mark Abbott, Callum Gibbins, Jamison Gibson Park, Vince Aso, Julian Savea.

Injured: Reggie Goodes (concussion), Ngani Laumape  (groin), Blade Thomson (shoulder), Nehe Milner-Skudder (shoulder), Jeffery Toomaga-Allen (broken arm), Motu Matu’u (broken arm).

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