Hurricanes taking no chances


Julian Savea, Ma'a Nonu and Beauden Barrett are among the internationals headed to Brisbane as the Hurricanes look to atone for their 29-24 loss to defending champions the New South Wales Waratahs.

The Hurricanes' first defeat of the competition left them just one point ahead of New Zealand rivals the Waikato Chiefs, who play bottom-placed Western Force.

Although the Reds have won just two of their nine games, Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd isn't taking any chances after naming a nearly unchanged line-up.

A calf injury to Nehe Milner-Skudder has left him out of contention, making way for James Marshall at fullback, while Cory Jane is benched for Matt Proctor.

“The reality is now we know every team is going to bring their A-game and that's probably a bit of a change for us because we've been a bit up and down and chasing the pack over the last few years,” said assistant coach Clark Laidlaw.

“Now we are out in front and teams are chasing us so we need to be on the money each week.”

The Reds, champions in 2011, have lost fullback Karmichael Hunt to a hip adductor injury, while prop Ben Daley is out for the season with a shoulder injury.

The Hurricanes have had the edge over the Reds in recent years, winning five of their last six meetings.

Flyhalf Barrett needs just two points to surpass David Holwell's tally of 676 to become the Hurricanes' leading points-scorer of all time.

Marty McKenzie will have the Chiefs' number 10 shirt against the Force, following All Black Aaron Cruden's season-ending knee injury.

Cruden faces at least six months on the sidelines after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the 26-9 win over the Crusaders last week.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has made three other changes to his starting 15 with skipper Liam Messam getting a break under the All Blacks agreement.

The Northern Bulls square up against the Western Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday in the battle of the top two South African conference teams.

“These are two teams who are playing well at the moment and are coming off good wins and it sets us up for a good clash,” said Bulls coach Frans Ludeke.

Australia's ACT Brumbies welcome back Wallabies centre Tevita Kuridrani from injury for a tough match against New Zealand's Otago Highlanders in Canberra on Friday.

Kuridrani hasn't played since injuring his shoulder in 28-13 loss to the NSW Waratahs on March 22 and in his absence the Brumbies have lost two of their three matches to have their lead over the Waratahs clipped to just three points in the Australian conference.

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has rested all three of his All Blacks against the Brumbies -- fullback Ben Smith, centre Malakai Fekitoa and scrum-half Aaron Smith.

The Highlanders said the trio have been omitted to fulfil the team's obligation to rest their Test players for at least two games this season.

In this weekend's remaining games, the Golden Lions take on the Cheetahs in Johannesburg, the Canterbury Crusaders host the Blues and the Waratahs take on the Rebels in Sydney.– AFP

Original source: Hurricanes taking no chances