Smith takes the reins from Tana

Conrad Smith has assumed the captaincy of the Hurricanes, a move by coach Colin Cooper that has relegated legendary former All Black skipper Tana Umaga to the bench.

All Black Smith will lead out a strong and fresh ‘Canes outfit when they head to Brisbane to take on Eddie Jones’s Reds in their own backyard in the opening Round of the 2007 Super 14 tournament.

The New Zealanders have a dynamic squad and they will be backing themselves against one of the traditionally weaker franchises.

The Hurricanes are epitomized by their skipper. Creative and incisive, this team will no doubt look to attack from every opportunity.

The midfield has powerful All Black centre Ma’a Nonu combine with his skipper, but outside the centres there are even more firepower.

Cooper has handed two Air New Zealand Cup stars their Super 14 debut, Samoan-born wing David Smith and fullback Cory Jane. The two speedsters, particularly Smith, have been revelations in the pre-season build-up and are set to continue the Hurricanes tradition of exciting outside backs which stems from icons such as Christian Cullen, Jonah Lomu and Tana Umaga himself.

Meanwhile, Cooper will be hoping that his pack will be able to give his exciting backs the ball they require. As is custom, this is the area in the ‘Canes game where there is some uncertainty.

The loose trio is somewhat of an unknown quantity, although Paul Tito and Bernie Upton will be workmanlike in securing first phase possession. All Black prop Neemia Tialata is a strong anchor at tighthead and much of the Hurricanes play will hinge on his performance.

Hurricanes: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Hosea Gear, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 David Smith, 10 Jimmy Gopperth 9 Chris Smylie; 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Nili Latu, 6 Luke Andrews, 5 Bernie Upton, 4 Paul Tito, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Tone Kopelani, 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Tim Fairbrother, 18 Bradley Mika, 19 Serge Lilo, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Tamati Ellison, 22 Tana Umaga.

Date: 3 February 2007
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 19.40 (9.40 GMT)
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Touch judges: Christie du Preez (South Africa), Stuart Dickinson (Australia)
Television match official: James Leckie (Australia)

365 Digital

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