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Hurricanes squad named to face the Bulls

Thu 22nd Feb

Three new caps have been included in the starting XV for the Hurricanes as they prepare to kick off their Investec Super Rugby season against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday morning (NZ time).

Ihaia West has been given the starting spot at first five-eighth after his impressive pre-season form while former Wallabies prop Toby Smith will start at loosehead.

The other new cap in the starting XV is Hawke's Bay No 8 Gareth Evans. He will start alongside experienced loose forwards Ardie Savea and Brad Shields who will also captain the side.

Three more players will have the opportunity to make their Hurricanes debut off the bench, with head coach Chris Boyd naming prop Alex Fidow, lock Murray Douglas and halfback Jamie Booth among the reserves.

There is no shortage of experience and class on the bench, with World Rugby Player of the Year Beauden Barrett joining the likes of Blade Thomson and Ben Lam.

Thomson has made a more than solid comeback to play after having his past two seasons seriously impacted by shoulder injuries.

Despite having a limited amount of time on the field during the Hurricanes successful pre-season campaign, a number of players showed their readiness for action in last week's win over the Blues.

That has given Boyd and the rest of the coaching staff confidence to start the likes of vice-captain TJ Perenara, Vaea Fifita and Ngani Laumape.

The Hurricanes will be looking to make it four wins in a row against the Bulls and continue their good form in South Africa in recent seasons that has seen them win four of their five regular season matches in the Republic.

It could also be a memorable game for Barrett if he makes it on to the field as he is set to become just the fourth player in Investec Super Rugby history to score 1000 points.


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