Savea, Perenara rested by Hurricanes
A Hurricanes backline already missing Beauden Barrett will also be without in-form All Blacks Julian Savea and TJ Perenara when they host the Sharks in Wellington on Saturday.
Coach of the Super Rugby leaders Chris Boyd has elected to hand winger Savea and halfback Perenara a break under the rest requirement for All Blacks players this season.
There are six changes in total from the side that beat the Crusaders 29-23 in last weekend to push the Hurricanes five points clear atop the standings.
Savea is replaced by Matt Proctor and Perenara by Chris Smylie while James Marshall is at inside centre in place of Barrett, who suffered a medial ligament tear which will rule him out for about a month.
Up front, Boyd welcomes back No.8 Victor Vito from a calf injury which sidelined him from their past three games.
He and Blade Thomson are recalled to the loose forward mix, replacing in-form pair Brad Shields and Callum Gibbins.
Prop Chris Eves makes a notable start in place of Reggie Goodes.
All of Eves’ 21 Hurricanes appearances have been off the bench but Boyd says the Manawatu loosehead is ready to prove himself against a powerful Sharks scrum.
Hooker Dane Coles, who came off the bench following a six-week injury break (elbow) last week, was unavailable for selection after suffering a calf strain against the Crusaders.
The Sharks have slumped to 11th place after losing their past four games, including a 48-15 drubbing from the Highlanders last week.
Hurricanes: Nehe Milner-Skudder, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith (capt), Ma’a Nonu, Matt Proctor, James Marshall, Chris Smylie, Victor Vito, Ardie Savea, Blade Thomson, James Broadhurst, Jeremy Thrush, Ben Franks, Motu Matu’u, Chris Eves. Reserves: Brayden Mitchell, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Reggie Goodes, Callum Gibbins, Brad Shields, Frae Wilson, Otere Black, Rey Lee-Lo.