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Super Rugby preview: Hurricanes host the Bulls at McLean Park on Saturday
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The Hurricanes take on the Bulls at Napier's McLean Park this Saturday looking to keep the momentum going after their bonus point 29-26 win over the Crusaders last time.
The win saw the Hurricanes sit third in the New Zealand conference table and 10th overall and another victory on Saturday would propel them back into the top half ahead of their bye next weekend.
Opponents Bulls currently sit third in the South African standings, on 16 points, and seventh equal overall following their 34-34 draw last weekend against defending champions the Chiefs.
However, the Bulls should have won that game after leading 31-15 with just over 10 minutes to play. But the Chiefs rallied with first Aaron Cruden scoring in the corner at the end, and full-back Gareth Anscombe converting on full-time to level the scores, and the Bulls will be looking to bounce back this week.
In team news, the Hurricanes have been boosted with the return of both Victor Vito and Cory Jane.
The All Blacks duo start the game at No 8 and right wing respectively while Brad Shields makes his return to the squad via the bench.
Tim Bateman is ruled out so Alapati Leiua lines up in midfield alongside Conrad Smith, with Andre Taylor continuing at fifteen.
Vito and Shields' comeback to the squad means Blade Thomson moves to the bench while Ardie Savea drops out altogether for the home game.
Jeff Toomaga-Allen is a doubt and is therefore bracketed with John Schwalger, with Reggie Goodes backing up the latter on the bench.
For the Bulls, coach Frans Ludeke has named fit-again lock Flip van der Merwe in his starting XV for Saturday's clash.
The 67-cap lock takes over the captaincy and number five jersey from Victor Matfield in one of two changes to the starting pack that played against the Chiefs.
In the other, Jacques Engelbrecht comes in at number eight, with Dewald Potgieter moving to the side of the scrum in place of Jacques du Plessis, who moves to the bench.
Matfield and Jono Ross do not feature in the matchday 23.
"We are looking to start rotating players from now on and with the depth we have in the squad, it is something I don't mind doing," said Ludeke.
It was confirmed on Tuesday that Matfield will only play on tour when there is an injury to the other locks and will instead join the coaching staff on this trip. It was all decided on when the lock's return to rugby was negotiated.
You can see all the action from McLean Park as the Hurricanes take on the Bulls live on Sky Sports 3HD from 7:30am.
Hurricanes: 15 Taylor, 14 Jane, 13 Smith, 12 Leiua, 11 Savea, 10 Barrett, 9 Perenara; 1 Franks, 2 Coles, 3 Toomaga-Allen/Schwalger, 4 Thrush, 5 Broadhurst, 6 Levave, 7 Lam, 8 Vito
Replacements: 16 Dixon, 17 Eves, 18 Schwalger/Goodes, 19 Thomson, 20 Shields, 21 Guyton, 22 Parkes, 23 Banks.
Bulls: 15 Visser, 14 Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Serfontein, 11 Basson, 10 J-L Potgieter, 9 Hougaard; 1 Greyling, 2 Visagie, 3 Kruger, 4 Willemse, 5 F van der Merwe, 6 Stegmann, 7 D Potgieter, 8 J Engelbrecht.
Replacements: 16 Mbonambi, 17 van der Merwe, 18 Mellett, 19 Hattingh, 20 du Plessis, 21 van Zyl, 22 Pollard, 23 Beyers.
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