Super Rugby: Highlanders host Hurricanes in Dunedin
The Hurricanes are looking for back-to-back Super Rugby wins when they take on the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday.
Last Updated: 19/03/14 10:36am
The visitors will be buoyed by a massive 60-27 victory against the Cheetahs in Wellington last time as they face a Highlanders side who sit one point above them in the New Zealand Conference.
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett has been forced into changes for the clash at Forsyth Barr Stadium following injuries to James Marshall and Blade Thomson.
Marty Banks comes back into the starting line-up for Marshall, who is suffering a toe injury, while Andre Taylor makes his first appearance on the bench as specialist full-back cover.
Faifili Levave moves to No 8 and Jack Lam returns to complete the back row, along with Ardie Savea. Ash Dixon replaces Motu Matu'u on the bench.
Cory Jane has been ruled out after suffering an ankle injury in training this week, while Jeremy Thrush is unavailable due to a personal commitment.
Hammett told the franchise's official website: "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.
"This week, we've decided to give Ash an opportunity, while we can also give Motu some decent game time for the development team."
The Highlanders go into the clash on the back of a narrow 31-29 defeat to the Force.
Ma'afu Fia gets his first start of 2014 in the front row and Brad Thorn returns to the number four jersey after being sidelined with a rib injury since Round 3.
Phil Burleigh also makes his first appearance of the season, while Patrick Osborne returns from a high ankle injury to start on the wing.
Highlanders: 15 B Smith, 14 Buckman, 13 Fekitoa, 12 Burleigh, 11 Osborne, 10 Sopoaga, 9 A Smith, 1 Hames, 2 Coltman, 3 Fia, 4 Thorn, 5 Wheeler, 6 E Dixon, 7 Christie, 8 Manu.
Replacements: 16 Robinson, 17 Diaz, 18 King, 19 Hoeata, 20 Ioane, 21 Tanaka, 22 Parker, 23 Treeby.
Hurricanes15 Banks, 14 Leiua, 13 C Smith, 12 Parkes, 11 J Savea, 10 Barrett, 9 Smylie, 1 Franks, 2 Coles, 3 Toomaga-Allen, 4 Reddish, 5 Broadhurst, 6 Lam, 7 A Savea, 8 Levave.
Replacements:16 A Dixon, 17 Eves, 18 Schwalger, 19 Abbott, 20 Thomson/Hill, 21 Perenara, 22 Proctor, 23 Taylor.
Watch Highlanders v Hurricanes live on Sky Sports 4 HD from 6.30am on Friday