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Plumtree calls for big defensive effort

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/04/2017

The Hurricanes will face their "toughest defensive assignment to date" on Saturday in their Super Rugby match-up against the Blues, according to assistant coach John Plumtree.

Vince Aso will start at centre in place of Matt Proctor, who misses the match due to concussion, while Julian Savea will take his place on the left wing after being given a week off.

Wes Goosen switches to the right wing.

The Blues have attacking threats everywhere and the Hurricanes' defence will need to be much better than it was against the Waratahs last round, Plumtree said.

The weather might play a part and his side needed to be able to adjust, he said.

"Both sides like to play good, open rugby and hopefully it will be a dry track.

"If it's not, we have to adjust better than we did in the rain in Hamilton [against the Chiefs] and kick better and be more aggressive on defence.

"The Blues have big ball carriers and it could be our toughest defensive assignment to date."

Plumtree says it was a tough call to make to put Aso in the midfield.

"We have a lot of choice with guys like CJ [Cory Jane] and Julian and it's not easy to go from wing to 13, but he's done it before."

Ardie Savea, meanwhile, returns at No 8 after straining his calf against the Reds in Brisbane.

Aso and the Savea brothers have scored 16 tries between them so far this season.

Hooker Dane Coles remains on ice, a sore calf delaying his return after missing the last two matches.

Plumtree was hopeful Coles would return against the Brumbies in the next round, but a bye for the Hurricanes after that would give plenty of extra time for the hooker to recover.

The Blues have named a virtually unchanged side from that which lost to the Highlanders, with Sonny Bill Williams down to start the match in the midfield.

Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Wes Goosen, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara (c), Ardie Savea, Callum Gibbins, Brad Shields, Michael Fatialofa, Mark Abbott, Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Ben May.

Reserves: Leni Apisai, Chris Eves, Mike Kainga, Vaea Fifita, Reed Prinsep, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Otere Black, Cory Jane.

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