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Powerful Fifita poised to test Bulls

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/05/2017

Coach Chris Boyd is eager to see what Vaea Fifita can add to the Hurricanes mix when he starts at blindside for the first time this season against the Bulls in Pretoria.

Boyd has named a new-look loose forward trio for the match at Loftus Versfeld, with Fifita - who has started the last four matches at lock - joining openside Ardie Savea and No.8 Brad Shields.

The re-shuffle will allow Mark Abbott to return to his regular starting spot in the second row, while versatile loose forward Reed Prinsep will make his impact off the bench.

"We've been chewing over when we might like to have a look at Vaea at six," Boyd said.

"He's got the skill set to play at lock or six, and we felt for this game against the Bulls that we'd go for a slightly bigger pack.

"He's also very powerful - he's a good lineout forward, clearly, and he's a good scrummager."

While the Canes can use Fifita through the middle, Boyd said he was also effective out wide.

"We can get him into different parts of the field at different times," he said.

"Part of the reason we're interested in experimenting with him at six is to see if we can free those legs up down the edges a little bit more."

There are two other changes to the team that started in the Hurricanes' record 61-7 win over the Cheetahs in Wellington.

Jordie Barrett returns at fullback, while Loni Uhila will make his first start since round three at loosehead prop.

Jordie Barrett replaces older brother Beauden, who moves back to his favoured position of first five-eighth in place of Otere Black, while Uhila takes over in the No.1 jersey from Ben May.

Last time the two teams met was in 2015, with the Hurricanes winning a close match 17-13 in Pretoria.

The Hurricanes have won nine of their 11 matches this season, while the Bulls have just three victories heading into the weekend.

The overall rivalry between the two clubs is closer, with the Hurricanes holding a narrow 10-9 advantage over 19 matches. In Pretoria the teams have split the honours five apiece.

Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Wes Goosen, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara (captain), Brad Shields, Ardie Savea, Vaea Fifita, Sam Lousi, Mark Abbott, Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Loni Uhila. Reserves: Leni Apisai, Chris Eves, Ben May, Reed Prinsep, Callum Gibbins,Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Otere Black, Ben Lam.

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