Tomorrow night will be a homecoming for Stormers No 12 Shaun Treeby.
The 28-year-old played 71 matches for the Wellington Lions from 2009-16 and now has the unenviable task, in his first start for the Western Province-based outfit, of keeping Ngani Laumape and Vince Aso quiet as the Stormers, who have shipped 50+ in their last two outings in New Zealand, seek to regain their defensive starch, once such a hallmark of their game.
Treeby was a replacement on debut last weekend in the defeat to the Highlanders.
"It's good to see Treebs (in the opposition). He's a very good man and has been around these blocks a few times. I know him very well and he's played in a few teams I've played in. He'll enjoy starting in Wellington and putting his best foot forward," says Hurricanes captain TJ Perenara.
The halfback admitted that he was surprised at how much the Stormers had struggled on their tour.
"The Stormers are a very good team and for them to lose the last two weeks, they'll be disappointed too. We didn't read too much into that. We've had poor performances in the past and it hasn't defined us. They'll be coming out here with a point to prove tomorrow night," he says.
"I think we'll try and win first. If chasing a bonus point is an option, then we'll do it, but whether it is through tries or penalties, we won't worry too much," he adds, perhaps in a nod to the weather and a tighter Stormers' defensive line.
The Stormers have made several changes in both the forwards and backs, and have two sharp halfbacks in Dewaldt Duvenage and Jano Vermaak. It will interesting to see whether a forward pack, led by loose forward Siya Kolisi, can provide enough ball for the backline to show some of the skills that assistant coach Paul Feeney has inculcated in this group.
Stormers head coach and former Springboks midfielder Robbie Fleck wants to see a positive response from his charges.
"We have had to learn some hard lessons on this tour which will be good for us going forward. We face the defending champions and the players are determined to make an impression and show that we can be competitive," he said.
The Stormers have historically had the wood, 11-7, on the home team. Indeed, the Hurricanes have won just once in their last five clashes, including a 2013 defeat in Palmerston North but, even without Dane Coles, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Matt Proctor, Blade Thomson, Michael Fatialofa and Reggie Goodes, they should be 25-30 points too strong for the tourists.
Kickoff is at 7.35pm from Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Cory Jane, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara (c), Ardie Savea, Callum Gibbins, Brad Shields, Vaea Fifita, Mark Abbott, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Ben May
Reserves: Leni Apisai, Chris Eves, Mike Kainga, James Blackwell, Reed Prinsep, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Otere Black, Ben Lam
Stormers: SP Marais, Cheslin Kolbe, EW Viljoen, Shaun Treeby, Dillyn Leyds, Robert du Preez, Dewaldt Duvenage, Nizaam Carr, Siya Kolisi (c), Kobus van Dyk, Chris van Zyl, Jan de Klerk, Wilco Louw, Bongi Mbonambi, Ali Vermaak
Reserves: Ramone Samuels, Caylib Oosthuizen Oli Kebble, JD Schickerling, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Jano Vermaak, Dan Kriel, Bjorn Basson