Barrett benched; 'rookies' to face Bulls

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 07:37
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TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Three new caps have been included in the starting XV for the Hurricanes, as they prepare to kick off their Super Rugby season against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Ihaia West has been given the starting spot at flyhalf - after his impressive pre-season form - with All Black No.10 Beauden Barrett on the bench.

Wallaby prop Toby Smith will start at loosehead.

The other new cap in the starting XV is Hawke's Bay No.8 Gareth Evans. He will start alongside experienced loose forwards Ardie Savea and Brad Shields - with the latter to captain the side.

Three more players will have the opportunity to make their Hurricanes debut off the bench, with coach Chris Boyd naming prop Alex Fidow, lock Murray Douglas and scrumhalf Jamie Booth among the reserves.

There is no shortage of experience and class on the bench, with the World Rugby Player of the Year, Barrett, joining the likes of Blade Thomson and Ben Lam.

Thomson has made a more than solid comeback to play after having his past two seasons seriously impacted by shoulder injuries.

Despite having a limited amount of time on the field during the Hurricanes successful pre-season campaign, a number of players showed their readiness for action in last week's win over the Blues.

That has given Boyd and the rest of the coaching staff confidence to start the likes of vice-captain Thomas Perenara, Vaea Fifita and Ngani Laumape.

The Hurricanes will be looking to make it four wins in a row against the Bulls and continue their good form in South Africa in recent seasons that has seen them win four of their five regular season matches in the Republic.

It could also be a memorable game for Barrett if he makes it on to the field as he is set to become just the fourth player in Super Rugby history to score 1000 points.

Hurricanes: 15 Matt Proctor, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Wes Goosen, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Thomas Perenara, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields (captain), 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Ben May, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 James O'Reilly, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Murray Douglas, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Ben Lam.

Date: Saturday, February 24
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17.15 (15.15 GMT; 04.15, Sunday, February 25 NZ time)
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Stephen Geldenhuys (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

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Fri, 23 March 2018
Crusaders v Bulls 06h35 Christchurch
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Connacht v Edinburgh 19h35 Sportsground
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Bath v Exeter Chiefs 19h45 Recreation Ground
Sat, 24 March 2018
Sunwolves v Chiefs 04h15 Tokyo
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Kings v Treviso 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
London Irish v Gloucester 15h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Harlequins 15h00 London
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Sun, 25 March 2018
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Rebels 4 3 0 1 15
Waratahs 4 2 1 1 10
Reds 3 2 0 1 8
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Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
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Sharks 4 1 1 4 9
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