Hurricanes and Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby loosie Gareth Evans is the first to admit the Sunwolves have been tough to preview in the countdown to Saturday's clash in Napier.

"We don't know what to expect because they have had a lot of changes. But that's not necessarily a bad thing as we have been able to spend more time focusing on what we want to do," Evans said.

"We've honed in a lot on our set piece play. If we get that right we should be able to give our backs plenty of ball," Evans explained.

He agreed last weekend's bye came at the right time. It allowed the Canes to freshen up after travelling through multiple time zones during trips to South Africa and Argentina before returning home for their week three 38-22 win against the Sharks.

Advertisement

While the 28-year-old former Highlander who is in his third season with the Canes admitted it would be good to experience All Blacks selection again and add to his one appearance against Japan in 2018 it isn't his main goal.

"After a frustrating year with injuries last year I'm just enjoying all the minutes I've been having this season."

Evans is one of four Magpies in the Canes 23 for Saturday and will start at No 8. His Havelock North clubmate and fellow loosie Devan Flanders, lock Isaia Walker-Leawere and prop Ben May are all expected to receive game time off the bench.

Evans, who like May, was named in the All Time Hurricanes Magpies XV this week, is unbeaten in Hurricanes colours on McLean Park with his sole appearance that memorable 38-37 victory over the Sharks in 2018 which came courtesy of a conversion five minutes into injury time from his Havelock North clubmate Ihaia West. He is excited to be returning.

"It's been a while, so I've been really looking forward to this trip. I know we've got a lot of support for the team up where I'm from in Havelock North and the rest of Hawke's Bay, so it'll be nice to put on a show for them," Evans said.

May and Evans are the only two current Canes selected in the All Time Hurricanes Magpies XV which also includes Evans' brother and former All Blacks lock Bryn Evans.

Should the Canes pack dominate as expected on Saturday the likes of winger Ben Lam, midfielders Ngani Laumape and Vince Aso, and fullback Chase Tiatia shouldn't be short of opportunities to strut their stuff.

Aso scored three tries for the Hurricanes when they beat the Brumbies 56-21 at McLean Park in 2017. With the anticipated steady supply of pill he could repeat that feat on Saturday.

Advertisement

All Blacks halfback TJ Perenara will again captain the Canes who should post their third win from four outings this season.

Canes head coach Jason Holland promised a running rugby spectacle.

"It should be pretty thrilling for the crowd at McLean Park. The Sunwolves have a few quick boys in the ranks, but so do we. We're ready for 80 minutes played at a high intensity."
Holland pointed out the Sunwolves thrive on being the underdogs.

"We know they will capitalise on any mistakes we make, so we need to be accurate."


Expect Evans and his fellow Canes forwards to gain the upper hand early. The Sunwolves pack will improve on their woeful effort against the Reds in Brisbane last weekend when the tourists were walloped 64-5. But the Canes forwards will be too strong.

Teams:
Hurricanes: Chase Tiatia, Kobus Van Wyk, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Fletcher Smith, TJ Perenara (captain), Gareth Evans, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Vaea Fifita, Scott Scrafton, James Blackwell, Tyrel Lomax, Asafo Aumua, Xavier Numia. Substitutes: Forwards, Ricky Riccitelli, Ben May, Alex Fidow, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Devan Flanders. Backs, Jonathan Taumateine, James Marshall, Peter Umaga-Jensen.

Sunwolves: Alex Horan, Siosaia Fifita, Keisuke Moriya (co-captain), Shogo Nakano, James Dargaville, Junpei Ogura, Rudy Paige, Jake Schatz (co-captain), Mitchell Jacobson, Tevita Tupou, Michael Stolberg, Kotaro Yatabe, Hencus Van Wyk, Jaba Bregvadze, Jarred Adams. Substitutes: Forwards, Efitusi Maafu, Nic Mayhew, Conraad Van Vuuren, Justin Downey, Shunsuke Nunomaki. Backs, Naoto Saito, JJ Engelbrecht, Tautalatasi Tasi.

All Time Hurricanes Magpies XV: Jarrod Cunningham, Robbie Fruean, Richard Buckman, Daniel Kirkpatrick, Zac Guildford, Ihaia West, Danny Lee, Gareth Evans, Karl Lowe, Mike Coman, Bryn Evans, Mark Abbott, Ben May, Norm Hewitt (captain), Ben May.