It's fair to say we've come to expect the unexpected from Hawke's Bay Magpies speedster Jonah Lowe.

Those two tries during the final five minutes of last year's loss to Bay of Plenty in Napier and that cracker of a try in the loss to Canterbury in Christchurch are still fresh in our memories. So when the Magpies 2016 back-of-the-year was declared fit to play in tonight's third round Mitre 10 Cup clash against Premiership champions and Ranfurly Shield holders Canterbury, two weeks earlier than expected, it wasn't a surprise.

"At first it was thought I had a stress fracture. But it only turned out to be a strained tendon in my left foot and I've been working hard with Luke [Magpies fitness trainer Stephenson] to get my fitness back up," Hurricanes squad member Lowe said as he reflected on his injury collected in Clive's July 29 Maddison Trophy semifinal win against Napier Technical.

Lowe, 21, replaces Hayden Hann on the right wing. A New Zealand Provincial Barbarians substitute centre against the British and Irish Lions, Lowe, said he did not mind the 14 jersey, which he pulled on four times for the Magpies last year, or the 13 jersey which he wore in six outings.

Advertisement

"Either or as long as I get on the paddock and we've got two good midfielders in Cardiff [Vaega] and Bucky [Richard Buckman]. I just want to enjoy myself, try and get involved and work on my learnings from the Canes environment.

"My knowledge of the game has improved because I've been learning off the best. It's just those little things like positioning, footwork, different lines and lots of skill work like catch and pass. It's all about doing the basics really well."

The 2014 New Zealand Secondary Schools rep and 2016 New Zealand under-20 rep knows if he can string some consistent performances together for the Magpies this season it will enhance his chances of cracking a spot in the Hurricanes 23 when the 2018 Super season begins.

"I want to be in the 23 and I want to make my debut for the team," said the veteran of 16 first-class games for the Magpies.

Lowe agreed the Magpies' first two outing this season had been a tough watch.

"It's only the start of the season. We've got a pretty young team which will keep getting better. This week's game is a good chance to turn our season around."

"Defence has to be our big work on. We're letting in too many points with a few soft tries. In the second half we have to keep the pressure on, keep our line speed up, be more dominant and more aggressive."

Lowe pointed out the unbeaten Cantabs are similar to the Crusaders.

"They have been together for a while but have some young talent who they are putting in against us so it will be exciting to go up against them. They work well together and they have a good set-piece."

Lowe's selection is one of three changes Magpies head coach Craig Philpott has made to his starting XV used in last week's loss to Bay of Plenty. Hugh Renton replaces his Hurricanes teammate Geoff Cridge at blindside flanker and Cridge replaces new Waratah Nick Palmer at lock.

Changes on the subs bench see Jarvy Aoake replace prop Mason Kean who has an ankle injury, Palmer replaces Josh Eden-Whaitiri, Lucas Goodin replaces fellow Saracens loosie Ben Hamelink, former All Black halfback Brad Weber returns from injury to replace Zac Donaldson and Hann replaces Pasqualle Dunn who will play for the Saracens against the Wellington Samoans at Park Island tomorrow.

Maori All Black and Hurricanes prop Ben May has knee surgery tomorrow but will be ready to play in the Magpies' September 17 away match against Counties-Manukau. Hurricanes loosie Gareth Evans is still unavailable with his thigh injury while United States flanker Tony Lamborn expects to shake off his shoulder injury in time for the trip to Pukekohe.

Winger Mason Emerson also hopes to be fit for Pukekohe after recovering from his ankle injury, halfback Ellery Wilson has recovered from his anke injury and will be the 24th man tonight while loosie Matt Gardner needs another fortnight to shake off his arm injury.

Both teams:
Hawke's Bay: Tiaan Falcon, Jonah Lowe, Cardiff Vaega, Richard Buckman, Sam McNicol, Ihaia West, Chris Eaton, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Fa'alemiga Selesele, Hugh Renton, Geoff Cridge, Michael Allardice, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Ash Dixon (captain), Jason Long. Substitutes, forwards: Jacob Devery, Mark Braidwood, Jarvy Aoake, Nick Palmer, Lucas Goodin. Backs: Brad Weber, Hayden Hann, TJ Vaega.

Canterbury: George Bridge, Marshall Suckling, Tim Bateman, Rob Thompson, Braydon Ennor, Brett Cameron, Jack Stratton, Luke Whitelock, Jed Brown, Reed Prinsep, Dominic Bird, Mitchell Dunshea, Oli Jager, Nathan Vella, Alex Hodgman. Substitutes, forwards: Nick Werahiko, Chris Gawler, Siate Tokolahi, Hamish Dalzell, Billy Harmon. Backs: Ere Enari, Inga Finau, Josh McKay.