Canes reshuffle the midfield for Crusaders

Thu, 14 Jul 2016 08:41
Large ngani laumape hurricanes 800

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: A midfield reshuffle is the only change to the Hurricanes team to play the Crusaders in a decisive Super Rugby encounter.

The Round 17 match will take place Christchurch on Saturday.

Ngani Laumape will join Willis Halaholo in the starting fifteen.

Laumape has been promoted from the bench to start at inside centre, with Halaholo shifting out one spot to outside centre for the final round of the Super Rugby regular season.

The Hurricanes rejig comes after regular centre Matt Proctor was ruled out with the hamstring strain that forced him off the field early in last weekend's win over the Waratahs in Sydney.

Proctor's regular midfield partner Vince Aso remains sidelined with a calf strain.

It will be Laumape's first start since running out against the Sharks five weeks ago, while Halaholo will make his 12th appearance and fourth start of the campaign.

The two Tongans have previously started together twice in the midfield this season, against the Kings and Jaguares, and played the majority of last weekend's 28-17 win over the Waratahs.

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd was more than comfortable the combination would perform well against the Crusaders.

"They haven't had a huge amount of time together as a midfield pairing, but they have both been heavily involved all season, so I don't think they will have any problems coming together this week," Boyd said.

"Willis has been in good form for us all season, he's got good footwork and a good passing game and Ngani is very powerful, so it's potentially an exciting duo."

The only other change to the squad is on the reserves bench where Wes Goosen takes Laumape's place as midfield cover.

It will be Goosen's first appearance since he scored a try with his first touch in Super Rugby against the Reds four weeks ago.

The Hurricanes have already qualified for the Super Rugby play-offs and with a bonus point win over the Crusaders could still win the New Zealand Conference and earn a home quarterfinal at Westpac Stadium next weekend.

However, win or lose, Boyd won't immediately know where his team are heading for the play-offs, or whom they are playing, with their fate dependent on other results.

The final play-off schedule won't be known until after the Lions play the Jaguares in the final match of the Super Rugby regular season later on Saturday.

Players on the injury list include Matt Proctor (hamstring), Vince Aso (calf), Blade Thomson (shoulder), Nehe Milner-Skudder (shoulder), Jeffery Toomaga-Allen (broken arm) and Motu Matu'u (broken arm).

Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Willis Halaholo, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Chris Eves, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Reg Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Ben May, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Wes Goosen, 23 Jason Woodward.

Date: Saturday, July 16
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 17.15 (05.15 GMT)
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

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