Eaton back for Hurricanes
All Blacks lock Jason Eaton will make his long-awaited return to the Super 14s when the Hurricanes take on the Waratahs on Saturday.
Last Updated: 14/02/08 10:37am
All Blacks lock Jason Eaton will make his long-awaited return to the Super 14 fray when the Hurricanes take on the Waratahs in a highly-anticipated clash in Sydney on Saturday.
A knee injury ruled Eaton out rugby for most of last year, but he is ready to partner up with debutant Jeremy Thrush in the 'Canes second row this weekend.
And coach Colin Cooper said that while the Hurricanes were renowned for their expansive running rugby, it would be their forward pack - which includes six All Blacks - that would make the most significant impact in the match.
Rodney So'oialo will lead the team from the base of the scrum, while fellow All Black loose forwards Jerry Collins and Chris Masoe take charge on the flanks.
New Zealand prop Neemia Tialata will bolster what is already a formidable Hurricanes front row when he comes off the bench on Saturday.
"It's a group we've been building for a while and they're all a bit more mature now," said Cooper.
"There's a lot of experience there now but we'll need that against the Waratahs. They came over and kicked us [in Wellington] last year and we've got a lot of respect for them."
The Hurricanes have had a great pre-season, but Cooper is quick to emphasise that the real rugby is merely going to begin this weekend.
"We made a lot of line-breaks and attacked pretty well," added the 'Canes coach.
"You can't take too much notice of what happens in the pre-season, but we're pretty happy with where we're at. scoring tries is our game."
Cooper will be forced to play devastating attacker Ma'a Nonu on the left wing in the absence of Zac Guilford, who has been ruled out of action for up to six weeks after breaking a bone in his hand at training on Wednesday.
While All Black centre Conrad Smith and Tamati Ellison take control of proceedings in a slightly unsettled midfield.
Hurricanes:15 Cory Jane, 14 Hosea Gear, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Tamati Ellison, 11 Ma'a Nonu, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Rodney So'oialo (c), 7 Chris Masoe, 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Tim Fairbrother, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Hikawera Elliot, 17 Neemia Tialata, 18 Craig Clarke, 19 Thomas Waldrom, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Willie Ripia, 22 Shannon Paku.