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Savea benched for Hurricanes quarter-final

AAP logoAAP 21/07/2016

All Blacks winger Julian Savea has been benched for the Hurricanes' Super Rugby quarter-final clash against the Sharks in Wellington.

Coach Chris Boyd has made three changes to his starting team for Saturday, with Matt Proctor's return from injury at centre pushing Jason Woodward out to the left wing in Savea's place.

In the other two changes, props Loni Uhila and Ben May come into the front row.

Uhila starts at loosehead prop in place of Reggie Goodes, who is unavailable after suffering concussion during last weekend's 35-10 defeat of the Crusaders.

It will be Uhila's first start of the season after 12 previous appearances off the reserves bench, while May also makes his first start of 2016.

"I'm pretty honoured to start, to be honest," Uhila said.

"I'm a little bit nervous but I think that's a good thing."

Boyd said the 25-year-old Savea was poor in last week's win in Christchurch and that he chose the side on merit.

It necessitated some tough choices.

"We've picked the best team for what's ahead of us," Boyd told reporters.

"At the end of the day, the team has been picked on form.

"I expect (Savea) to come on and make a bit of a statement."

Boyd said Uhila, Woodward and Willis Halaholo had all performed strongly against the Crusaders and forced his hand.

Bay of Plenty prop Mike Kainga, a member of the Chiefs Super Rugby squad in 2013, takes his place on the reserves bench as an injury replacement for front-line props Jeffery Toomaga-Allen (broken arm), Hisa Sasagi (calf strain) and Goodes.

Vince Aso has also shaken off a calf strain and has been named in the reserves.

Hurricanes: James Marshall, Cory Jane, Matt Proctor, Willis Halaholo, Jason Woodward, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Michael Fatialofa, Vaea Fifita, Ben May, Dane Coles (captain), Loni Uhila.

Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves, Mike Kainga, Mark Abbott, Callum Gibbins, Jamison Gibson Park, Vince Aso, Julian Savea.

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