Gopperth at 10, Eaton on the flank

Hurricanes coach Colin Cooper has made four changes and two positional switches to the Hurricanes starting XV that will face the Highlanders in a Super 14 Round 13 match at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, on Friday.

Bernie Upton comes into the side at lock in place of Jason Eaton, who switches to blindside flank for the injured Jerry Collins.

This will be Eaton’s 20th cap for the Hurricanes since his debut against the Blues in the first round last year, but his first starting role at flank.

There are three changes to the backs, including the return of Jimmy Gopperth at number 10 and a new midfield pairing of Tamati Ellison and Tana Umaga.

Gopperth gets his first start since Round Five against the Stormers, while Piri Weepu returns to scrum-half after playing three games at pivot – against the Bulls, Cheetahs and Crusaders.

Previously Blair Stewart wore the number 10 jersey in three games in Perth and South Africa.

Ellison comes in at inside centre (number 12) and Umaga into outside centre in place of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith respectively – the pair playing together for the second time since linking up in the win against the Chiefs in Round Two. Smith was not considered because of injury.

From last week’s starting line-up, Nonu starts on the bench, alongside scrum-half Alby Mathewson, while Bradley Mika rejoins the 22 on the replacement bench in place of Luke Andrews.

Hurricanes: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Hosea Gear, 13 Tana Umaga, 12 Tamati Ellison, 11 Shannon Paku, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Rodney So’oialo (c), 7 Chris Masoe, 6 Jason Eaton, 5 Bernie Upton, 4 Paul Tito, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Tone Kopelani, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Bradley Mika, 19 Serge Lilo, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 David Smith, 22 Ma’a Nonu.

Date: Friday 27 April
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Gary Wise (New Zealand)
Television match official: Josh Noonan (New Zealand)
Assessor: Stuart Beissel


365 Digital

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