Hurricanes flyhalf James Marshall will benefit from having TJ Perenara at scrumhalf against the Rebels in Wellington, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
New Zealand's franchises are required to rest their All Blacks for two rounds of Vodacom Super Rugby in this World Cup year. Unlike some sides, Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd chose not to do it early on in the tournament, which paid off as his full-strength team won their first five matches to top the combined log.
Boyd has decided that a home match against the 10th-placed Rebels is a good time to rest some of his All Blacks, so flyhalf Beauden Barrett, winger Julian Savea and prop Ben Franks will all sit out Friday's game, while hooker Dane Coles is out with an elbow injury.
The coach resisted the temptation to also give Perenara a break, which will provide Marshall with some stability during his first start of the season. The 26-year-old old Tasman captain has accumulated 17 Super Rugby caps since making his debut for the Canes in 2013, and will relish the opportunity to make an impact in the No 10 jersey.
While the Canes will be understrength for this clash, they should still have too much firepower for the Rebels, with All Blacks Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Victor Vito and Jeremy Thrush in the starting lineup.
Since shocking the Crusaders in Christchurch during the opening round of this year's tournament, the Rebels have lost three matches and only managed to beat the Force. Expect them to be reasonably competitive on Friday, but to fall well short of another win on New Zealand soil.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Hurricanes 2, Rebels 1
In Wellington: Hurricanes 1, Rebels 0
STATS AND FACTS
– The Hurricanes’ last home match against the Rebels in May 2012 represents their highest ever points haul (66) in a Super Rugby match.
– The same game also marks the most points conceded by the Rebels in a Super Rugby game. The match ended 66-24.
– The three matches between these sides have produced 197 points in total with final scores of 25-15 (2014), 66-24 (2012) and 42-25 (2011).
– The Rebels have the lowest lineout success rate (79%) this season.
– Opponents of the Hurricanes have spent longer in possession (16 minutes 29 seconds) than against any other side this season.
|Team||Top point-scorer||Top try-scorer||Most metres gained||Most tackles|
|Hurricanes||Beauden Barrett (57)||Julian Savea (4)||Julian Savea (415)||Brad Shields (54)|
|Rebels||Mike Harris (55)||Lopeti Timani (2)||Mike Harris (360)||Sean McMahon (66)|
Hurricanes – 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Matt Proctor, 10 James Marshall, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben May, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Subs: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 Chris Eves, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Adam Hill, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Otere Black, 23 Nehe Milner-Skudder.
Rebels – 15 Mike Harris, 14 Tom English, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Sefanaia Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Cadeyrn Naville, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Colby Fainga’a, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Jonah Placid.
Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images