Rugby: Vito to skipper Hurricanes

Loose forward Victor Vito will captain the Hurricanes against the Cheetahs on Saturday morning (NZT) in the absence of Conrad Smith. Photo / Getty Images.
Loose forward Victor Vito will captain the Hurricanes against the Cheetahs on Saturday morning (NZT) in the absence of Conrad Smith. Photo / Getty Images.

Loose forward Victor Vito will captain the Hurricanes against the Cheetahs on Saturday morning (NZT) in the absence of Conrad Smith.

Smith suffered a heavy concussion after he was knocked out making a tackle in last weekend's 48-14 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria and while he is recovering well he was never going to be selected this week.

Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett has made a collection changes to his starting side from the outfit that were hammered by the Bulls last week, including a midfield shuffle.

Tim Bateman returns at second-five in place of Tusi Pisi, while Reynold Lee-Lo will make his first start of the year in the No 13 jumper.

Prop Ben May comes in to the mix in the front-row, while Faifili Levave will start at blindside flanker, which sees Brad Shields move to the bench after making 10-straight starts this year in the loose trio.

Jack Lam has been bracketed with Karl Lowe for the No 7 jersey and Andre Taylor has been bracketed with James Marshall at fullback.

On the bench, James Broadhurst takes over the reserve lock/loose forward role from Mark Reddish.

The 11th-placed Hurricanes are in dire need of a victory to breathe some life in to their struggling season, while the Cheetahs are holding a wildcard spot in sixth and will be keen to make the most of their home ground advantage.

One thing that you can probably count on is plenty of points considering the game last year between these sides saw the Cheetahs win 47-38 in Wellington while the Hurricanes took the spoils in 2011 with a 50-47 triumph in Bloemfontein.

Hurricanes: Andre Taylor/James Marshall, Alapati Leiua, Reynold Lee-Lo, Tim Bateman, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara; Victor Vito (captain), Jack Lam/Karl Lowe, Faifili Levave, Jason Eaton, Jeremy Thrush, Ben May, Ash Dixon, Ben Franks. Reserves: Reggie Goodes, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, James Broadhurst, Brad Shields, Chris Smylie, Tusi Pisi, James Marshall/Karl Lowe

- APNZ

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