Injuries to James Marshall and Blade Thomson have forced Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett to shuffle his squad for Friday’s Super Rugby match against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
The Hurricanes broke an eight-match losing streak with their 60-27 win over the Cheetahs in Wellington on Saturday, and have targeted back-to-back wins as they prepare for their first match against New Zealand opposition.
Banks returns to the starting line-up for Marshall, who has picked up a toe injury. A question mark remains over Thomson after he pinged his neck against the Cheetahs, and he has been bracketed with Adam Hill.
Hammett says Thomson will be monitored throughout the week to see whether he can take up his intended position on the bench.
Faifili Levave moves into No.8, while Jack Lam returns to the back row along with Ardie Savea, and Andre Taylor makes his first appearance in the reserves as specialist fullback cover.
Hawke’s Bay’s Ash Dixon is set to suit up for the first time this season, replacing Motu Matu’u on the bench.
“We’re fortunate in that we’ve got three very, very good hookers – it’s probably one of the most competitive spots in the team,” Hammett said.
“This week, we’ve decided to give Ash an opportunity, while we can also give Motu some decent game time for the development team.”
Cory Jane suffered an ankle injury at training on Tuesday, ruling him out for Friday, while Jeremy Thrush was unavailable due to a personal commitment.
Hurricanes: Marty Banks, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith (captain), Hadleigh Parkes, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Chris Smylie, Faifili Levave, Ardie Savea, Jack Lam, James Broadhurst, Mark Reddish, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles, Ben Franks. Reserves: Ash Dixon, Chris Eves, John Schwalger, Mark Abbott, Blade Thomson/Adam Hill, TJ Perenara, Matt Proctor, Andre Taylor.