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Hurricanes boosted by All Blacks

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/06/2017
Julian Savea © Getty Julian Savea

The British and Irish Lions won't have it easy in their final midweek game of the New Zealand tour after the Hurricanes named a power-packed side.

All Blacks squad backs Julian Savea, Jordie Barrett and Ngani Laumape and forward Vaea Fifita have been released for the match on Tuesday, which is followed only by the Lions' last two Tests.

The starting XV is close to full strength, with the key absentees being an All Blacks Test trio - halves TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett and flanker Ardie Savea - along with long-time injured hooker and captain Dane Coles.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says he was happy to release a number of his fringe players for the match.

He wasn't keen to deny them the opportunity to face the tourists and says the experience will be good for their careers.

Without Coles and Perenara, Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd has named long-serving loose forward Brad Shields as captain.

Julian Savea's availability on the left wing suggests there won't be a place for him again in the second Test at the same Westpac Stadium venue on Saturday.

The prolific Savea was a surprise omission from the All Blacks team that beat the Lions 30-15 at Eden Park.

His place went to 20-year-old Rieko Ioane, who bagged two tries.

There is no room in a red-hot Hurricanes starting backline for former All Blacks winger Cory Jane, who is pushed onto the bench by Nehe Milner-Skudder, with Jordie Barrett restored at fullback.

Second five-eighth Laumape resumes his lethal midfield combination with Vince Aso, with both having scored a Super Rugby season-leading 14 tries.

Four starting Hurricanes were in the Maori All Blacks team well beaten by the Lions - Milner-Skudder, first five-eighth Otere Black, halfback Te Toirora-Tahuriorangi and prop Ben May.

Reserve halfback Kemara Hauiti-Parapara is in line to make his Hurricanes debut.

Boyd says the presence of the All Blacks players is a big boost for his team, the 2016 Super Rugby champions.

"We are under no illusions as to the challenge the British and Irish Lions will present and we want to put our best foot forward for what promises to be a memorable occasion," he said.

The Hurricanes have never previously played an international team.

However, Boyd and assistant coach John Plumtree have coached against the Lions twice previously as a combination - for Wellington in 2005 and South Africa's Sharks in 2009.

Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Otere Black, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Brad Shields (capt), Callum Gibbins, Vaea Fifita, Sam Lousi, Mark Abbott, Jeff To'omaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Ben May. Reserves: Leni Apisai, Chris Eves, Mike Kainga, James Blackwell, Reed Prinsep, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Wes Goosen, Cory Jane.

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