All Black boost for Hurricanes
All Black boost for HurricanesSHARE
The Hurricanes have been boosted by the return of All Black loose forward Victor Vito for their decisive Super Rugby encounter with the table-topping Chiefs.
Vito returns to the starting XV for the Hurricanes, after a knee injury suffered during the All Blacks first Test against Ireland on June 9.
The Canes return to action, following their second bye of the competition, and require a bonus-point win in the all-New Zealand derby to keep their chances alive of finishing in the top six.
With Vito back, Brad Shields drop down to the replacement bench.
Cory Jane has been bracketed with Alapati Leiua as cover on the wing.
Friday would be Jane's first game back since an ankle injury suffered against the Brumbies in Round 13.
Chris Eaton has been bracketed with Frae Wilson at scrumhalf. Jamie Nutbrown, who was drafted in as cover on Monday, is a possibility for the bench if Eaton does not recover from his hamstring strain.
The clash with the Chiefs will bring up the milestone of 50 Super Rugby caps for three of the home side – Faifili Levave (Chiefs 12, Hurricanes 37), Tim Bateman (Crusaders 35, Hurricanes 14) and Ben May (Crusaders two, Chiefs 33, Hurricanes 14).
Friday's game will also have special significance for injured player, Seti Tafua.
The former Poneke player fractured his vertebrae playing rugby in Australia two weeks ago so the Hurricanes will hold a bucket collection at the gates to help raise money to support his recovery.
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Cory Jane/Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Chris Eaton/Frae Wilson, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Reg Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Brad Shields, 20 Frae Wilson/Jamie Nutbrown, 21 Tusi Pisi, 22 Jayden Hayward.
Date: Friday, July 13
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Keith Brown (New Zealand)
TMO: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)