All Blacks Jordie Barrett and Dane Coles have been left out of the Hurricanes squad to play the Sunwolves at Napier's McLean Park on Saturday.
Barrett will be rested on one of his two prescribed NZ Rugby bye weeks. He'll instead play at the New Zealand Open Pro-Am tournament this week in Queenstown, alongside fellow All Blacks Damian McKenzie and Anton Lienert-Brown.
Co-captain Coles has been scratched as a precaution, due to a calf complaint sustained during training. Hurricanes staff expected the All Blacks veteran to be back in action against the Blues the following week.
A hand injury has forced Jackson Garden-Bachop out of the selection frame, with Fletcher Smith stepping into start at first-five from fullback. Garden-Bachop is expected to miss a few weeks of action.
Chase Tiatia fills in for Barrett at fullback, while South African Kobus van Wyk gets a chance to start on the right wing in place of Wes Goosen, who shifts to the bench.
In the forwards, James Blackwell comes back into the fold after resting a toe injury, and Fraser Armstrong will be replaced by Xavier Numia at loosehead prop.
Whilst the Sunwolves have never beaten the Hurricanes, in last year’s match-up in Tokyo they led 23 –10 going into halftime.
Coach Jason Holland said they’re the type of team that thrives on being the underdog.
"We know that they will capitalise on any mistakes we make, so we need to be accurate."
After a rough start to the season, the Wellington-based franchise will be looking to make it three-straight wins, after their victories over the Jaguares and the Sharks.
Hurricanes: 1-Xavier Numia, 2-Asafo Aumua, 3-Tyrel Lomax, 4- James Blackwell, 5-Scott Scrafton, 6-Vaea Fifita, 7-Du'Plessis Kirifi, 8-Gareth Evans, 9-TJ Perenara (c), 10-Fletcher Smith, 11-Ben Lam, 12-Ngani Laumape, 13-Vince Aso, 14-Kobus van Wyk, 15-Chase Tiatia
Reserves: 16-Ricky Riccitelli, 17-Ben May, 18-Alex Fidow, 19-Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20-Devan Flanders, 21-Jonathan Taumateine, 22-James Marshall, 23-Peter Umaga-Jensen.
Join us for live updates of Hurricanes v Sunwolves from 4:30pm Saturday