Thursday, 07 February 2008 The Hurricanes enter home territory for the first time this season to host the Brumbies in Levin on Friday evening in their final Rebel Sport Super 14 pre-season match.
The excitement is growing for the start of the 2008 Rebel Sport Super 14, with All Blacks loose forwards Rodney So'oialo and Jerry Collins both included in the starting XV in Levin. Hurricanes captain So'oialo will play at No. 8 and Collins at blindside flanker in a strong Hurricanes line-up for the final warm-up match.
All 28 players are fit to play against the Brumbies and are all expected to receive plenty of game time to hone their match fitness and playing combinations ahead of the Hurricanes' season opener against the Waratahs in Sydney next Saturday.
The side for Levin features Ma'a Nonu for the first time this year. Nonu scored a memorable hat trick for the Hurricanes against the Brumbies at Westpac Stadium in 2005 in a 49-37 win, and will be eager for a repeat performance after a thumb injury ruled him out of the first two matches this time out against the Crusaders and Chiefs. .
Cory Jane, who started in every match for the Hurricanes at fullback last season, takes over from Shannon Paku in that position, with Paku moving to the left wing and rookie Zac Guildford playing off the bench for the first time.
Loosehead prop John Schwalger and tighthead prop Tim Fairbrother combine in the front row for the third straight pre-season game, as does Jimmy Gopperth and Tamati Ellison in the five-eighths positions.
Jason Eaton will start at lock after making his comeback off the bench against the Chiefs last week. Eaton, who is booked in for a beard shaving appointment for Can Teen on February 20, teams up with Jeremy Thrush with other locks Bernie Upton and Craig Clarke both set to take the field off the bench.
Meanwhile the Brumbies have named a strong final pre-season squad to face the Hurricanes, including 2007 Wallabies George Smith, Stephen Hoiles, Julian Huxley, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Mark Gerrard for the first time this season. They play the Crusaders in Christchurch in their regular season opener next Friday.
The Hurricanes and the Brumbies have been regular pre-season protagonists over the history of Super rugby, with the last three warm-up games between the sides ending in one win each and one draw. The Brumbies won 33-26 at home in 2005, the Hurricanes prevailed 40-7 in Masterton in 2006 and the two sides finished at 28-28 in Canberra at the start of last season.
Ticket Information: Gate sales tickets are available from 11am at the ground. Children 14 years of age and younger can gain general admission entry for as little as $5 with adult tickets available from $10. Grandstand tickets are priced at $15.
Gates open at 4.30pm and kick off is at 5.30pm.
The Hurricanes squad to play the Brumbies in Levin is: