Only Rodney So’oialo’s rib injury will force a change to the Hurricanes lineup for Saturday’s Super 14 rugby semifinal against the Crusaders after coach Colin Cooper revealed his side for the Christchurch match.
RugbyHeaven NZ reports that Cooper retained last week’s run-on lineup, with All Blacks prop Neemia Tialata named on the bench after serving out a one-match suspension.
Tim Fairbrother and John Schwalger have retained the propping berths after strong performances against the Blues.
The Hurricanes aren’t short on back row resources but will be hopeful that their inspirational skipper can make the kick-off.
Though So’oialo was named in the starting team on Thursday, Cooper will start with Chris Masoe at No 8 if So’oialo is ruled out and Scott Waldrom will slot in at openside flanker, with Jerry Collins at No 6.
Tialata’s availability means there’s no place for Jacob Ellison on the bench.
HURRICANES: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Hosea Gear, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Willie Ripia, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Rodney So’oialo (or Chris Masoe), 7 Masoe (or Scott Waldrom), 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Tim Fairbrother, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 John Schwalger.
Reserves: 16 Hikawera Elliot, 17 Neemia Tialata, 18 Craig Clarke, 19 Scott Waldrom (or Thomas Waldrom), 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Jimmy Gopperth, 22 Tamati Ellison.