Big names in Canes

By Gary Caffell


Rugby

The Hurricanes have named a powerful starting line-up for their Super 15 pre-season clash with the Chiefs at Mangatainoka on Saturday.

Six players who wore the All Blacks jersey last season have been included by coach Mark Hammett - prop Ben Franks, hooker Dane Coles, loose forward Victor Vito, first-five Beauden Barrett, centre Conrad Smith and wing Julian Savea.

Smith's selection is particularly noteworthy as the skipper will be making his first appearance for 2013 as the team run out for their final pre-season match before the Investec Super Rugby season begins.

And the same goes for Brad Shields, a talented youngster who has shaken off injury concerns in time for this weekend's match. He will start at No 8 and form a powerful loose trio with Vito and Karl Lowe.

Lineout ball should be no problem for the Canes with former All Black Jason Eaton and the reliable Jeremy Thrush starting in the middle row and Coles and Franks are part of a formidable front row which also includes the promising Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, who has looked every inch All Black material.

That same sentiment has also been widely expressed about, TJ Perenara who will be at halfback. He and Barrett are an exciting pairing and they have a newcomer in Samoan Reynold LeeLo outside them. He was in the Counties Manukau team who won the ITM Cup second-tier title last season and, interestingly enough, was part of the Chiefs development squad before being signed by the Hurricanes.

Smith will provide his usual composure at centre and with Savea and Matt Proctor on the wings and Andre Taylor at fullback there is certainly no shortage of pace outside.

Proctor is a former New Zealand under-20 rep who starred for Wellington in the ITM Cup last season, scoring 11 tries, including a hat-trick against Otago. With All Black Cory Jane injured, Proctor now has a grand opportunity to be a permanent fixture in the Super 15 squad.

Coach Hammett says the Hurricanes, who will hold an open training session at Memorial Park in Masterton late this afternoon, are looking forward to Saturday's game.

"We can't wait to head back to Mangatainoka this weekend," he said. "There is a real sense of rugby community up there.

"It is great we can be involved with grassroots rugby and take this game to the heart of Hurricanes territory."

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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