Rugby: Ardie Savea set to start in Smith's 100th

Ardie Savea. Getty Images.
Ardie Savea. Getty Images.

Hurricanes openside flanker Ardie Savea will make his first start of the Super Rugby season against the Cheetahs in Wellington on Saturday afternoon.

After missing selection for the first week of the campaign and then being consigned to a bench role for the past two outings, the 20-year-old has been given an opportunity to impress this weekend, while Jack Lam has moved to the pine.

"Jack Lam has had three very physical encounters, so we're looking to take him out of the early battle exchanges this week. It's good that we can do that and give someone like Ardie a start as well,'' Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett said.

In other changes to the forward pack, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen will start at tighthead prop ahead of former All Black John Schwalger, while Faifili Levave returns from concussion to start at blindside flanker.

In the backs, Hadleigh Parkes returns in the No 12 jersey after missing last Friday's 29-21 loss to the Brumbies with a shoulder ailment, while Alapati Leiua will start on the right wing as Cory Jane has a broken nose and halfback TJ Perenara has been dropped to the bench, which gives veteran Chris Smylie a rare start.

Saturday's match will also mark a special occasion for skipper Conrad Smith who will play his 100th game for the franchise.

"When I played that first game in 2004, very few would have guessed I'd reach this point. It's such an honour and I treasure every opportunity I get to wear the swirl and represent the team I love,'' the 32-year-old said.

The Hurricanes have opened their season with three losses and are in desperate need of a win to get their campaign on track.

The Cheetahs have made a handful of changes to their side who lost 43-33 to the Reds last week.

Hurricanes: James Marshall, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith (captain), Hadleigh Parkes, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Chris Smylie, Blade Thomson, Ardie Savea, Faifili Levave, Mark Reddish, Jeremy Thrush, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles, Ben Franks. Reserves: Motu Matu'u, Chris Eves, John Schwalger, James Broadhurst, Jack Lam, TJ Perenara, Matt Proctor, Marty Banks.

Cheetahs: Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, Johann Sadie, Francois Venter, Raymond Rhule, Johan Goosen, Sarel Pretorius, Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagne, Boom Prinsloo, Francois Uys, Lood de Jager, Nicolaas van Dyk, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Caylib Oosthuizen. Reserves: Ryno Barnes, Trevor Nyakane, Rossouw de Klerk, Andries Ferreira, Jean Cook, Shaun Venter, Elgar Watts, Hennie Daniller

- APNZ

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