Super Rugby Aotearoa: Hurricanes blood teenage first-five Ruben Love for crucial Crusaders clash

The Hurricanes have made the bold but brave call to blood young first-five Ruben Love for his Super Rugby starting debut against the Crusaders on Sunday. 

The Wellington side has been searching for a first five ever since Beauden Barrett transferred to the Blues at the end of 2019 and the 'Canes are yet to have someone cement themselves in the role. 

After the season-ending injuries to Simon Hickey and Jackson Garden-Bachop and the unsuccessful stint of Orbyn Leger, the Hurricanes have moved onto young-gun Love. 

The 19-year-old couldn't ask for a tougher first outing when he opposes All Blacks No.10 Richie Mo'unga but Hurricanes coach Jason Holland is excited to see him showcase his skills. 

"I want him to be Ruben Love, I don't want him to try and figure out how to be any other ten," Holland says. "He's got to do what he does. 

"I know he's a student of the game and would've done his homework, so all he needs to do is go out there and make decisions and have a crack at whatever he sees. 

Love was a devastating talent at high school level where he starred at Palmerston North High for the first XV and XI.  

It was there where he caught the eyes of Hurricanes coaches who snapped him up in November, 2019 on a three-year deal. After a brief cameo off the bench against the Highlanders in the Hurricanes only win this season, he'll get his first chance from the get-go. 

"We've known what a talent he is and he's had time to get into the environment and gets an opportunity," Holland says.

"The first thing that everybody identifies is his prep, it's like he's a 15-year pro, and does all the right things during the week.

"He's got a bit of energy, a bit of excitement factor, pace, acceleration, a step, all those things are exciting. 

He'll be an attacking 10 but he's also got the smarts to know when to get a bit of depth and when to kick and when to pass.

"He's just a small cog but I'm pretty confident he'll slot in and do his job."

After a disappointing 27-17 loss to the Blues, the 'Canes have made six personnel changes that sees a shift to No.7 for captain Ardie Savea and the return of centre Peter Umaga-Jensen alongside Ngani Laumape.

Join Newshub for live updates of the Hurricanes v Crusaders Super Rugby Aotearoa clash from 3:35pm Sunday