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Tongan Bear named on Canes bench

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/05/2017

The Hurricanes have named a largely settled side for this weekend's all-Kiwi blockbuster against the Crusaders but will finally be able to call upon the power of The Tongan Bear from the bench.

Loosehead Loni Uhila has been named on the pine for the match in Christchurch on Saturday, in what will be just his second match of the Super Rugby season.

A fan favourite in Wellington, the 28-year-old Uhila returns after six matches on the sidelines battling a persistent calf niggle.

The part-time boxer's only other 2017 appearance came in the side's round-three loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton, after playing a key role in their 2016 title win.

Uhila - who will head to French rugby with Clermont at the end of the season - has replaced Mike Kainga, who has dropped out of the matchday squad.

Chris Eves also reclaims the No.1 jumper from Ben May, who moves to the bench.

Elsewhere, loose forward Reed Prinsep is promoted to the starting XV against his former side, forming a trio with No.8 Brad Shields and openside Ardie Savea.

Prinsep made just the single appearance for the Crusaders in 2016 before heading north to join the defending champions, and has since played eight Super Rugby games.

He slots in for the injured Callum Gibbins, while Taranaki loosie Toa Halafihi has been promoted to the bench.

Lock Sam Lousi has also been preferred to James Blackwell as reserve lock, while Wes Goosen takes over from Ben Lam as outside back cover.

Dane Coles remains out with concussion, while Nehe Milner-Skudder is yet to return from a broken bone in his foot.

The Hurricanes have won four of their past five matches against the Crusaders but are yet to play the Canterbury boys this season.

HURRICANES: Jordie Barrett, Cory Jane, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara (c), Brad Shields, Ardie Savea, Reed Prinsep, Vaea Fifita, Mark Abbott, Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves. RESERVES: Leni Apisai, Ben May, Loni Uhila, Sam Lousi, Toa Halafihi, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Otere Black, Wes Goosen.

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