Hurricanes coach Colin Cooper is banking on the experience of All Blacks Conrad Smith and Tamati Ellison to help unlock a solid Stormers defence when the sides meet in a Super 14 rugby match at Cape Town on Sunday morning (NZT).

Smith and Ellison return to Cooper's starting lineup after injury forced them out of last week's match against the Cheetahs at Bloemfontein which the Hurricanes lost 12-28.

Heading into Sunday's fifth round match, the third-placed Stormers, have conceded just two tries.

The Hurricanes, fourth in the standings, also have 14 points but the Stormers have a superior points differential.

Cooper has also dropped to the bench exciting young Manawatu first five-eighth Aaron Cruden in favour of the more seasoned Willie Ripia.

In the forwards, Jacob Ellison comes in for John Schwalger at loosehead prop and Scott Waldrom takes over openside flanker duties from Karl Lowe.

Lowe, Schwalger, centre Alapati Leiua along with Cruden will see game time from the reserves.

A desire to manage his squad through the season and put fresh legs on the park was one reason why Jacob Ellison was getting his first start of the season, replacing Schwalger in the front row and Waldrom was preferred over Lowe.

But there was no substitute for experience in what was shaping up as a vital match.

"Tamati and Conrad slip straight back into it with their experience," Cooper said.

"We know they will have a massive crowd there and obviously they are coming off a high, having beaten the Highlanders, so we have gone for experience particularly in the backs.

"They play a pretty wide game, have a lineout drive that's been successful and a scrum that's pretty good also."

Cooper said the Hurricanes would be more comfortable this weekend having come down from altitude back to sea level and having recovered from travelling to South Africa.

There was also an edge to the side after last weekend's loss.

"We will be put to the test this weekend ... we just have got to be a lot smarter than we were last week."

Hurricanes
Cory Jane, Tamati Ellison, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, David Smith, Willie Ripia, Piri Weepu, Rodney So'oialo, Scott Waldrom, Victor Vito, Michael Paterson, Bryn Evans, Neemia tialata, Andrew Hore (captain), Jacob Ellison.

Reserves: Dane Coles, John Schwalger, Jeremy Thrush, Karl Lowe, Tyson Keats, Aaron Cruden, Alapati Leiua.

Stormers
Joe Pietersen, Sireli Naqelevuki, Jaque Fourie, Juan De Jongh, Bryan Habana, Peter Grant, Dewaldt Duvenage; Wicus Blaauw, Tiaan Liebenberg, Brok Harris, Anton Van Zyl, Andries Bekker, Schalk Burger (captain), Francois Louw, Duane Vermeulen.

Reserves: Deon Fourie, J.C. Kritzinger, De Kock Steenkamp, Pieter Louw, Ricky Januarie, Lionel Cronje, Gio Aplon.

- NZPA