Hurricanes ready for second phase of campaign

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Lynn McConnell     26 Apr 2018     Getty Images

Coach Chris Boyd said while the Sunwolves may have leaked some points in games to date they were a quality attacking side. They had been in last week's game against the Crusaders for long periods of time.

"I thought they played particularly well and they've scored a lot of tries, they're well-disciplined, they give away the least number of penalties in the competition, they've got a good scrum and with Tony Brown coaching their backs they'll have a bag of tricks.

"They play, so they are good in that space," he said.

While the side hadn't had a win to date in the competition, Boyd said there appeared to be a master plan in their approach. They had the Japan A side touring with them and the Sunwolves were clearly a feeder to the national team and that was a good thing.

But the Hurricanes would not be distracted by the Sunwolves' lack of success.

"We have a motivation to keep our standards particularly at home in our stadium so the team we have picked I think reflects the fact that all of these games are tough," he said.

Boyd said the Hurricanes were lucky that they had positions where three players were competing for two positions and that allowed them to keep players fresh and fit and the policy of rotating players would be continuing.

Ngani Laumape and Vaea Fifita were being rested as required as part of their All Blacks rotation. Vince Aso will play second five-eighths with Reed Prinsep on the blindside flank.

Finlay Christie returns at halfback after suffering an early season injury.

"If you look through the side [for the Sunwolves] it is still a very capable side," he said.

Nehe Milner-Skudder has been named on the bench and had been champing at the bit for a number of weeks and his recovery had gone well. His return had always been aimed at the Sunwolves game and he had achieved that. He could possibly have been played two weeks ago but they held him back deliberately. He was likely to get 20-30 minutes in the game, unless called on earlier due to injuries.

Boyd was also confident that while flanker Ardie Savea had been bracketed for the game he would be fit to play.

He added that No.8/flanker Gareth Evans had been a handy acquisition for the side this year.

"Gareth has natural leadership, there's no doubt about that. He's a good man, he's got a great understanding of the game particularly in the defensive line in that area. He's a good leader and he speaks his mind and challenges and holds people's standards so he's been a really good acquisition for us," he said.