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MX News Update 2024


Hurricanes strengthen for Super Rugby showdown

WELLINGTON: The Wellington Hurricanes have strengthened their starting XI for Saturday’s Super Rugby showdown at the Auckland Blues, with captain Brad Shields, plus All Blacks Jordie Barrett and TJ Perenara.

The Hurricanes head to Eden Park just one point ahead of the second-placed Blues with four rounds remaining in the regular season. Barrett takes his place in midfield with the scrum-half berth filled by Perenara, who scored his 63rd Super Rugby try from the bench last weekend to set a new competition record. Former England international Shields suits up as blindside flanker, while junior New Zealand international Xavier Numia also comes into the squad as prop. Head coach Clark Laidlaw said his team faced a tough task in Auckland, where the Hurricanes have not won in five years.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to be able to come to the top in their home and put our best foot forward,” said Laidlaw. “We haven’t won in Auckland since 2019 – so we know there’s a huge challenge ahead.”

The Hurricanes are the leading try scorers this season with 53, just ahead of the Blues and Waikato Chiefs, who are on 52 each. Blues fullback Zarn Sullivan returns from a knee injury, while his brother Bailyn is on the Hurricanes bench.

“It’s great, it’s a proud moment for our family,” Zarn Sullivan said. The Blues have a point to prove after the Hurricanes recorded a 29-21 victory when the teams met in Wellington in March. I know the boys will rise to the occasion and want to right a few wrongs since we lost to them in Wellington,” Sullivan added.

The Blues have also selected a powerful squad with a back row consisting of All Blacks Dalton Papali’i, Hoskins Sotutu and Akira Ioane. All Blacks center Rieko Ioane is out after suffering a concussion during last Friday’s 38-11 win over the Melbourne Rebels. —AFP