Two players will don the Hurricanes jersey for their 50th appearance in their Round Three clash with the Crusaders at Westpac Stadium on Friday.
Dane Coles and Victor Vito will reach that milestone after they both began their Super Rugby careers in 2009. Coles was the starting hooker for the Hurricanes in their first game of the 2009 season. He scored a try that evening, despite the side going down 22-26 to the Waratahs at home.
Vito made his debut a match later, starting at No.8 against the Highlanders in Wellington, where the ‘Canes grabbed a 22-17 win over the Southerners.
Both are now senior ‘Canes players, with Vito being a 20-Test cap All Black and Coles the most recent addition from the franchise to the black jersey.
Hurricanes head coach Mark Hammett congratulated the two.
“These guys are proud Hurricanes and should enjoy the occasion as reaching your 50th cap is no small feat. Both Colesy and Vic have worked extremely hard to get there and that’s why they have also achieved higher honours with the All Blacks. They know there is a job at hand, and being the kind of guys they are, that will be their only focus on Friday,” said Hammett.
Looking at this week’s line-up, only one change has been made to the starting XV, with Vito moving to the back of the scrum and Brad Shields starting at No.6. On the bench, Ben May comes into the No.17 jersey and Motu Matu’u has been bracketed with Ash Dixon.
Players not considered for selection this week due to injury include Jack Lam (knee), Eric Sione (shoulder) and Blade Thomson (ankle).
15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u/Ash Dixon, 17 Ben May, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 James Marshall, 22 Reynold Lee-Lo.
Date: Friday, March 8
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)