Black gets pivotal role for Hurricanes
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Otere Black will guide the Hurricanes into their first match of the Super Rugby season after being named to start in the pivotal No.10 jersey against the Sunwolves in Tokyo on Saturday.
Black gets the starting role ahead of regular Hurricanes flyhalf Beauden Barrett, who will start the match from a reserves bench that includes captain and hooker Dane Coles.
Black is hardly a rookie with the Manawatu pivot having played for the Hurricanes seven times since his debut in 2015 against the Rebels in Wellington.
Coles' absence from the starting spot means scrumhalf TJ Perenara will captain the side with Ricky Riccitelli wearing the No.2 jersey between props Jeffery To'omaga-Allen and Chris Eves.
One player who will be a rookie in Tokyo is Jordie Barrett who is set to make his Super Rugby debut at fullback.
The 20-year-old has impressed during the Hurricanes pre-season and gets an early chance to impress in the competition proper after a hamstring injury ruled Nehe Milner-Skudder out of the first match.
Barrett won't be the only Hurricanes player on debut against the Sunwolves, with lock James Blackwell to start at lock and loose forward Reed Prinsep among the reserves.
Wellington's Blackwell will start alongside Michael Fatialofa in the second row, while Canterbury recruit Prinsep provides loose forward and lock cover from the bench.
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Otere Black, 9 TJ Perenara (captain), 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Jeff To'omaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Chris Eves.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ben May, 18 Mike Kainga, 19 Reed Prinsep, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Vince Aso.
Date: Saturday, February 25
Venue: Prince Chichibu Stadium, Tokyo
Kick-off: 13.15 (17.15 NZDT; 04.15 GMT)
Referee: Egon Seconds (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Akihisa Aso (Japan)
TMO: Minoru Fuji (Japan)