Rugby: Hammett makes four changes for Highlanders battle

Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett has called upon the experience of Tim Bateman for Friday's clash with the Highlanders. Photo / Getty
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett has called upon the experience of Tim Bateman for Friday's clash with the Highlanders. Photo / Getty

Hurricanes' coach Mark Hammett has made four changes to his side to meet the Highlanders at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Friday night.

A back injury has ruled hooker Dane Coles out and he will be replaced by the hard-hitting Motu Matu'u with Ash Dixon joining the reserves, while Hammett has called upon the experience of Tim Bateman at second-five as Alapati Leiua moves to the bench.

Elsewhere, Jack Lam comes back in at openside, replacing Ardie Savea, while Jeffery Toomaga-Allen returns to the starting line-up at tighthead prop with Reggie Goodes moving to the pine as Ben Franks switches back to loosehead.

The Hurricanes and Highlanders, who sit sixth and seventh on the Super Rugby ladder respectively, are both locked on 30 competition points, although Jamie Joseph's Highlanders have a game in hand.

The Hurricanes, who got back to the winner's circle with a 25-15 victory over the Rebels in Melbourne last Friday, have five games left this season and all of them are against Kiwi opposition.

In a nod to the Highlanders' physical style, Hammett has selected six forwards and two backs on his bench with flanker Brad Shields set to return from injury.

Hurricanes: Andre Taylor, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith (captain), Tim Bateman, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito, Jack Lam, Faifili Levave, James Broadhurst, Jeremy Thrush, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Motu Matu'u, Ben Franks. Reserves: Ash Dixon, Chris Eves, Reggie Goodes, Blade Thomson, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Chris Smylie, Alapati Leiua.

- APNZ

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