Hurricanes coach Colin Cooper has made some significant changes to his team for their Super 14 crunch match against the table-topping Sharks in Durban on Saturday – most notably up front.
All Blacks Andrew Hore (at hooker) and Neemia Tialata (prop) have been brought in for Dane Coles and Tim Fairbrother in the front row.
Bryn Evans starts at lock for Jeremy Thrush, who has been ruled out of the match with an elbow injury.
The backline changes see David Smith finally getting his chance on the wing – having been named on the left wing in place of the injured Hosea Gear.
Cory Jane has also been reinstated at fullback and an unlucky Tamati Ellison is relegated to the bench.
However, Cooper is expecting a big battle up front – naming three fresh front row forwards on his reserves bench – Coles, Fairbrother and Jacob Ellison.
“They [Hore and Tialata] bring that experience factor and they bring confidence to the pack,” Cooper said from the team’s base in Durban.
“I’ve got that five-two split on the bench and that allows a front row to sub on because we’re expecting it to be a very tough, physical game.
“There’s no doubt [they will attack us up front]. They play a strong set-piece game and a strong kicking game with a good chase.”
Tialata took a week off after pulling up sore after playing against the Bulls, while Hore missed the last match with an eye injury.
Hurricanes: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Zac Guildford, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 David Smith, 10 Piri Weepu, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Rodney So’oialo (captain), 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Jacob Ellison, 18 Tim Fairbrother, 19 Api Naikatini, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Willie Ripia, 22 Tamati Ellison.
Date: Saturday, April 4
Venue: Absa Stadium, Durban
Kick-off: 17.00 (15.00 GMT)
Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Touch judges: Joey Salmans (South Africa), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)