Rugby: Hurricanes make three changes

James Marshall replaces Andre Taylor at fullback. Photo / Getty Images
James Marshall replaces Andre Taylor at fullback. Photo / Getty Images

Hurricanes fullback Andre Taylor has been dropped to the reserves bench for the match against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday night.

Taylor is the only selection change by Mark Hammett after his side's last-gasp 29-28 victory over the Crusaders in Wellington at the weekend.

It is still early in the season but Taylor, 25, has struggled to repeat his form of last year where he consistently breached defences and has been replaced by James Marshall.

The Hurricanes' attack has not been fluent - they scored two tries against the Crusaders thanks to wing Alapati Leiua's intercept in the dying minutes, and the individual brilliance of their other wing Julian Savea. Hammett's men were disappointing in their defeats by the Blues and Reds.

Hammett's other change has been forced, with hooker Dane Coles ruled out with an ankle sprain. Motu Matu'u has been bracketed in the No2 jersey and Ash Dixon will get the nod if he comes through training without aggravating his shoulder injury.

With both Coles and Matu'u leaving the field injured against the Crusaders at Westpac Stadium, the final scrum was a no-contest affair, which hurt the visitors as they chased the victory.

Southland's Jason Rutledge, called in this week from his plumbing job by Hammett, will be the reserve hooker if Matu'u is ruled out.

Prop Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen has been bracketed on the reserves bench due to a sternum injury.

The Hurricanes team to play the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin is: James Marshall, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith (c), Tim Bateman, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito, Karl Lowe, Brad Shields, Jason Eaton, Jeremy Thrush, Ben May, Motu Matu'u/Ash Dixon, Ben Franks. Reserves: Ash Dixon/Jason Rutledge, Reggie Goodes/Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, James Broadhurst, Faifili Levave, Chris Smylie, Tusi Pisi, Andre Taylor.

- APNZ

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