WELLINGTON – The Hurricanes have made four changes to their team to face the Lions in their Super Rugby encounter at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.
Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd admitted there were some tough decisions made before he finalised his combinations for the match.
Last week the Hurricanes beat the Sunwolves 43-15.
The return of Ngani Laumape from a week's break has seen the in-form Vince Aso move out of the 23-man squad, a decision Boyd found difficult given just how well the versatile back was playing in 2018.
However, Boyd stressed that Aso would be right back in the mix as the Hurricanes negotiate a difficult few weeks before the international playing window.
Laumape's return is the only change in the backs but there have been three made up front where prop Jeff Toomaga-Allen swaps places for Ben May.
There has been a similar switch in the loose forwards where Gareth Evans comes in for Reed Prinsep while Vaea Fifita returns to the second row after a week off.
The only other alteration to the match-day 23 comes in the reserves with Ihaia West coming in for Jackson Garden-Bachop.
Nehe Milner-Skudder, who made a welcome return to rugby in the last quarter of the Sunwolves match, will again come off the bench.
Saturday's match, a repeat of the 2016 Super Rugby final, as well as last year's semifinal, will be significant for centre Matt Proctor who will make his 50th appearance for the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes team is:
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields (captain), 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Jeff To'omaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 James O'Reilly, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Ben May, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Nehe Milner-Skudder.
African News Agency (ANA)