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Hurricanes v Bulls: Teams
At Westpac Stadium, Friday March 20, kick-off 6.35am
All Black hooker Andrew Hore has returned to the Hurricanes' starting line-up for a crucial Super 14 clash against the Bulls in Wellington on Friday.
Hore has not played since injuring his ankle in Hong Kong in November's Bledisloe Cup match between Australia and New Zealand.
Neemia Tialata is the only other change to the Hurricanes XV, replacing Tim Fairbrother at tighthead prop.
Hosea Gear will play his 50th match for the franchise while lock Jason Eaton will have a fitness test on Friday to determine whether he will be able to play. Bryn Evans is standing by.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has decided to start with Derick Kuun against the Hurricanes and JP Nel has retained his place at outside centre.
Ludeke made it clear that Kuun and Chiliboy Ralepelle will rotate during the season and with Nel in the starting XV, Jaco Pretorius will be used as an impact player.
The rest of the team that started against Stormers has remained unchanged, but Wilhelm Steenkamp comes in on the bench for the injured Victor Matfield and Dewald Potgieter has recovered from his hand injury and takes the place of Jacques Burger.
Ludeke said the Bulls are bracing themselves for an extremely physical encounter and he believes the Hurricanes are currently the in form New Zealand franchise.
"The Hurricanes are a well balanced team and they have adapted splendidly to the new ELV's," he said.
"They know exactly what they want to do and we all know they are extremely dangerous from broken play. They are all great athletes and we are preparing ourselves for a huge challenge."
Hurricanes: 15 Tamati Ellison, 14 Zac Guildford , 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu , 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Piri Weepu, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Rodney So'oialo (c), 7 Scott Waldrom, 6 Karl Lowe, 5 Jason Eaton / Bryn Evans, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Jacob Ellison , 18 Bryn Evans / Api Naikatini, 19 Faifili Levave , 20 Willie Ripia , 21 Jason Kawau , 22 David Smith.
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JP Nel, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Gerhard van den Heever, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez (captain), 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Pedrie Wannenburg, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Danie Rossouw, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Derick Kuun, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Rayno Gerber, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Dewald Potgieter, 20 Heini Adams, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Jaco Pretorius.
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Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com