Hurricanes unleash 'Tongan Bear' on Chiefs

Wed, 08 Mar 2017 09:25
Large loni uhila hurricanes 800

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Loose head prop Loni Uhila and lock Mark Abbott have been ushered into the tight five for the Hurricanes.

The defending Super Rugby champions face compatriots the Chiefs in the big New Zealand derby between two of the tournament's unbeaten sides in Hamilton on Friday.

Uhila, popularly known as The Tongan Bear, pushes Chris Eves to the reserves and Mike Kainga out of the matchday 23, while Abbott makes a straight swap with James Blackwell, who takes his place on the bench.

Uhila missed the opening two rounds of the season, against the Sunwolves and Rebels, due to a calf strain, while Abbott missed the trip to Japan due to personal reasons before entering the competition as a substitute against the Rebels last week.

"Loni and Abbo have both had slightly delayed starts to the season, but they've performed really well through the preseason and now they're ready to enter the fray," Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said.

"That's not a reflection on the guys who they've replaced, but just what we feel will be the best combination for this week."

The Hurricanes come into the match with two wins from two matches after beating the Sunwolves 83-17 in Tokyo and the Rebels 71-6 in Wellington.

The Chiefs have also won their opening two matches in 2017, beating the Highlanders 24-15 in Dunedin in week one, and the Blues, 41-26 in Hamilton in round two.

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 Mark Abbott, 3 Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Loni Uhila.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Ben May, 19 James Blackwell, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Otere Black, 23 Jordie Barrett.

Date: Friday, Match 10
Venue: FMG Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), James Doleman (New Zealand)
TMO: Glen Newman (New Zealand)

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Tue, 27 June 2017
Hurricanes v B&I Lions 07h35 Westpac Stadium
Fri, 30 June 2017
Sharks v Bulls 17h00 Kings Park, Durban
Sat, 01 July 2017
Jaguares v Kings 23h05 Buenos Aires
New Zealand v B&I Lions 07h35 Westpac Stadium
Cheetahs v Stormers 13h05 Bloemfontein
Lions v Sunwolves 15h15 Ellis Park Stadium
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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 13 6 0 7 33
Waratahs 13 4 0 9 19
Force 13 4 0 9 17
Reds 13 3 0 10 17
Rebels 13 1 1 11 8
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Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 14 14 0 0 63
Hurricanes 14 11 0 3 54
Chiefs 14 11 1 2 53
Highlanders 14 10 0 4 46
Blues 14 7 1 6 37
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 12 7 0 5 30
Cheetahs 13 3 0 10 16
Bulls 12 3 0 9 15
Sunwolves 12 1 0 11 7
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 13 12 0 1 56
Sharks 13 9 1 3 42
Jaguares 12 5 0 7 24
Kings 12 4 0 8 19