Super Rugby: Hurricanes v Chiefs preview
Last Updated: 22/05/14 10:03am
The Chiefs will aim to keep up the pressure on the league-leading Sharks when they travel to the WestPac Stadium to face the Hurricanes on Saturday.
Dave Rennie's side sit just five points behind the Durban-based franchise with a game in hand, although the Sharks have the opportunity to stretch their lead to 10 when they face the Blues in Auckland on Friday.
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Meanwhile, victory for the eighth-placed Hurricanes could see them elevated into the top three depending on other results.
Prior to their bye in round 14, the Chiefs recorded back-to-back victories after successive defeats and Rennie will be eager to make it a hat-trick and build on their one-point lead at the head of the New Zealand conference.
Meanwhile, Hurricanes enter Saturday's clash after a mixed period which has seen them claim three wins in their last five outings, one of their two defeats coming against compatriots the Highlanders last time out.
Jack Lam will make his 50th appearance for the Wellington-based side when they host the Chiefs and the flanker believes the milestone match is also crucial for the Hurricanes.
"Personally, I'm humbled and honoured to reach 50 games, but as a team, this match is huge for us in terms of how the remainder of our season plays out," he told the Hurricanes' official website.
"I'm just looking forward to getting stuck in and leaving everything out on that field."
Hooker Dane Coles comes back in to the Hurricanes' starting line-up after a week's injury break, while fly-half Beauden Barrett has recovered well from a hip injury and is expected to start against the Chiefs.
Should Ash Dixon be deemed unfit in the coming days, Reggie Goodes will provide cover at hooker, and Mike Kainga will suit up for the first time as a Hurricane.
Meanwhile, Chiefs boss Rennie has made three changes to his starting XV for the trip to Wellington.
In the back-line, Asaeli Tikoirotuma and Charlie Ngatai returning from injury to take their place on the left wing and at outside centre respectively.
The only other change to the run-on side sees Tim Nanai-Williams, who has recommitted to the Chiefs for the 2015 season, return to take the full-back jersey.
Fly-half Aaron Cruden makes his comeback from a thumb injury on the replacements bench, where he is joined by fellow returnees Kane Thompson and Tom Marshall.
Hurricanes: 15 Taylor, 14 Jane, 13 Smith (capt), 12 Leiua, 11 Savea, 10 Barrett, 9 Perenara; 1 Franks, 2 Coles, 3 Toomaga-Allen, 4 Thrush, 5 Broadhurst, 6 Levave, 7 Lam, 8 Vito
Replacements: 16 Dixon/Goodes, 17 Eves, 18 Goodes/Kainga, 19 Shields, 20 Savea, 21 Smylie, 22 Bateman, 23 Proctor/ Marshall
Chiefs: 15 Nanai-Williams, 14 Sweeney, 13 Ngatai, 12 Aki, 11 Tikoirotuma, 10 Anscombe, 9 Kerr-Barlow; 1 Manu, 2 Harris, 3 Tameifuna, 4 Fitzgerald, 5 Retallick, 6 Latimer, 7 Cane, 8 Messam (capt)
Replacements: 16 Schwalger, 17 Mackintosh, 18 Hohneck, 19 Thompson, 20 Squire, 21 Weber, 22 Cruden, 23 Marshall
You can see the Hurricanes take on the Chiefs live on Sky Sports 2HD from 8:30am
Sat 23rd May - Overall Group
Blues5 - 29Hurricanes
Waratahs32 - 22Crusaders
Western Force3 - 23Highlanders
Cheetahs17 - 40Lions
Stormers31 - 15Melbourne Rebels
Fri 29th May - Overall Group
Crusaders0 - 0Hurricanes
Brumbies0 - 0Bulls
Sharks0 - 0Melbourne Rebels
Sat 30th May - Overall Group
Highlanders0 - 0Chiefs
Western Force0 - 0Reds
Stormers0 - 0Cheetahs
Lions0 - 0Waratahs
Fri 5th Jun - Overall Group
Hurricanes0 - 0Highlanders
Western Force0 - 0Brumbies
Sat 6th Jun - Overall Group
Melbourne Rebels0 - 0Bulls
Blues0 - 0Crusaders
Reds0 - 0Chiefs
Cheetahs0 - 0Waratahs
Stormers0 - 0Lions
Fri 12th Jun - Overall Group
Blues0 - 0Highlanders
Melbourne Rebels0 - 0Western Force
Sat 13th Jun - Overall Group
Brumbies0 - 0Crusaders
Chiefs0 - 0Hurricanes
Waratahs0 - 0Reds
Bulls0 - 0Cheetahs
Sharks0 - 0Stormers
Super Rugby 2014 Round 15
Western Force scored four tries in a 29-19 victory over the Lions to see them move into the Super Rugby play-offs.
Hurricanes claimed a shock 45-8 victory, including six tries, against defending champions Chiefs in Wellington.
Crusaders moved third in the Super Rugby ladder with a 32-30 victory over the Highlanders in Dunedin.