Hurricanes rush their All Blacks back
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Dane Coles, Beauden Barrett and Nehe Milner-Skudder have been named to start the Hurricanes' first home match.
The defending Super Rugby champions face the Rebels in Wellington on Saturday.
The star trio are among four personnel changes to the Hurricanes team that ran out against the Sunwolves in Week One, the other being the elevation of Reed Prinsep to No.8 in place of the injured Blade Thomson.
Hurricane hooker and captain Coles and flyhalf Barrett swap places with Ricky Riccitelli and Otere Black respectively - after coming off the reserves during the team's 83-17 win in Tokyo.
Milner-Skudder has recovered from the hamstring strain that ruled him out of the season opener, to replace Jordie Barrett at fullback.
Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said the selection of the team had been fairly straight forward with the changes largely part of a plan for the opening two matches of the season.
"Dane and Beauden were always going to come back into the starting team and Nehe would have started round one if he'd been fit, so the selections certainly aren't form related," Boyd said.
"Blade Thomson dislocated his shoulder in Japan and is having scans to determine the severity of his injury, so Reed gets an early chance to stake a claim at the back of the scrum."
There are four further changes to the Hurricanes matchday 23 in the reserves - where Riccitelli, Black and Jordie Barrett are joined by lock Mark Abbott, who was unavailable for the trip to Japan due to a personal commitment.
When the team's last played, in 2016, the Hurricanes beat the Rebels 38-13 in Melbourne.
In total the franchises have played each other five times - with the Hurricanes winning the last four, the Rebels' only win having been in Melbourne in 2011.
Hurricanes: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Vince Aso, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Reed Prinsep, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Chris Eves.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Ben May, 18 Mike Kainga, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Otere Black, 23 Jordie Barrett.
Date: Saturday, March 4
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 17.15 (15.15 AEDT, 04.15 GMT)
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: William Houston (Australia), Cam Stone (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)