Canes face test of depth

A weakened Hurricanes side will take on the Reds in Wellington on Saturday, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.

Cory Jane, Victor Vito, Chris Eves and the Savea brothers, Julian and Ardie, have all been dropped after breaking the team's self-imposed curfew in Durban last Tuesday. The Canes went on to lose 32-15 to the Sharks on Saturday.

Their absence could further disrupt a team that already looked disjointed against the Sharks.

Adding to Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd's worries is the dipping form of Beauden Barrett. The All Blacks flyhalf offered little on attack at Kings Park and has struggled for consistency with his goal-kicking.

The Reds have been one of the most disappointing teams this year with seven defeats, a draw and just two victories. But they will be looking to take advantage of a considerably weakened Hurricanes side, particularly in the backline.

There is no doubting the class of the Canes, but the senior members who are playing this Saturday, including halfbacks Barrett and TJ Perenara, will need to step up.

Boyd has replaced his errant boys with wingers Jason Woodward and Wes Goosen, No 8 Blade Thomson and flank Callum Gibbons in the run-on XV, while Loni Uhila takes the spot of Eves on the bench.

If the Reds can exploit the absence of Ardie Savea and Vito in the back row and nullify the Canes' rookie wingers, they could well cause an upset.

The Queenslanders have made two changes for the match, with Ayumu Goromaru replacing the injured Karmichael Hunt at fullback and Matt Mafi starting before Saia Fainga'a at hooker.

Overall: Hurricanes 13, Reds 6
In Wellington: Hurricanes 8, Reds 2

– The Hurricanes have won 11 of the last 13 meetings between these sides, averaging 30 points per game in those 11 victories.
– The Reds and Hurricanes are the only teams to have success rates above 90% at both the scrum and lineout this season.
– Although he has kicked the second-most shots at goal this season (39), Beauden Barrett has missed the most as well (22).
– The Hurricanes have been the most ruthless side in the competition when it comes to scoring tries following winning a turnover this season (14 times); only two teams have scored fewer than the Reds in this fashion (two).
– The Reds are the only side yet to score a try involving seven-plus phases of build-up play so far; no side has scored more tries of this nature than the Canes (seven).
Source: Opta

Team Top point-scorer Top try-scorer Most metres gained Most tackles
Hurricanes Beauden Barrett (118) Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Julian Savea (5) Julian Savea (519) Ardie Savea (113)
Reds Jake McIntyre (80) Nick Frisby, Samu Kerevi (4) Samu Kerevi (628) Jake McIntyre (70)

Hurricanes – 15 James Marshall, 14 Jason Woodward, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Vince Aso, 11 Wes Goosen, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Jeff To'omaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (c), 1 Reg Goodes. 

Subs: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Loni Uhila, 18 Ben May, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Ngani Laumape, 23 Willis Halaholo.

Reds – 15 Ayumu Goromaru, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Campbell Magnay, 12 Anthony Fainga’a, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Curtis Browning, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Ben Matwijow, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 James Slipper (c).

Subs: 16 Matt Mafi, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Michael Gunn, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Duncan Paia’aua, 23 Junior Laloifi.

Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Mabey (Australia), Brett Johnson (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

Photo: David Kapernick/Getty Images

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Mariette Adams