Rugby: Vito still out for Hurricanes

By Daniel Richardson

Hurricanes No 8 Victor Vito remains hobbled by a tight calf and won't play in this Saturday's Super Rugby outing against the Blues at Eden Park.

Vito missed last weekend's 41-29 victory over the NSW Waratahs in Wellington and the tough-tackling Faifili Levave played at the back of the scrum in Vito's absence and will do so again this weekend.

Ben Franks, who also missed last weekend's win over the Waratahs due to a back problem, has been pencilled in to start against the Blues but Reg Goodes has been bracketed with the loosehead prop as a precaution.

Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett has largely stuck with his players who made light work of the Waratahs as the Wellington-based franchise won their fourth game on the bounce to occupy fifth spot on the Super Rugby ladder.

Samoan international Tusi Pisi will start in the No 10 jersey, with regular pivot Beauden Barrett moving to fullback as Andre Taylor shifts to the bench.

Hurricanes assistant coach Alama Ieremia explained the change to the backline: "Tusi offers another style of attack with his versatility as a 10, 12 and 15 for us this weekend. Beauden is experienced at fullback and having him in this position gives us another option. He has moved between first-five and fullback this season when the bench has been introduced, so it is an opportunity to give those combinations more game time,'' Ieremia said.

Young openside flanker Ardie Savea has been retained after he made a promising debut last weekend, while older brother Julian will again be a threat out on the wing.

Sir John Kirwan's seventh-placed Blues beat the Hurricanes 34-20 at Westpac Stadium in their first game of the Super Rugby season and the Hurricanes would love to return the favour this weekend.

Hammett's side have looked sharp in attack in recent weeks but they've let points in at an alarming rate.

The Blues beat the Highlanders 29-18 last week.

Hurricanes: Beauden Barrett, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith (captain), Tim Bateman, Julian Savea, Tusi Pisi, TJ Perenara; Faifili Levave, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Jason Eaton, Mark Reddish, Ben May, Motu Matu'u, Ben Franks/Reg Goodes. Reserves: Dane Coles/Ash Dixon, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, James Broadhurst, Jack Lam, Chris Smylie, Reynold Lee-Lo, Andre Taylor

- APNZ

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