The Blues are a difficult team to face in such a match after showing a huge improvement throughout the season.
They will not be a pushover for the Hurricanes even if they are at home this weekend.
Both teams have a decent pack and players that can turn games around.
John Plumtree made nine changes to his side for the last game of the regular season.
Beauden and Jordie Barrett, and Ngani Laumape, sit out this match while Ardie Savea and TJ Perenara are on the bench.
James Blackwell was bracketed alongside Kane Le’aupepe to start at lock, but was later removed from the 23 once Le’aupepe was cleared through the head injury protocols.
The loose forward trio of Reed Prinsep, Du’Plessis Kirifi and Gareth Evans have been retained. Dane Coles will captain the side from hooker in his first start since coming back from an 10-week injury layoff two weeks ago against the Sharks.
The backline is very inexperienced with Richard Judd and Jackson Garden-Bachop starting at 9-10. Outside them, Danny Toala and Peter-Umaga Jensen in the midfield. Salesi Rayasi is on the right wing.
The Blues will welcome back Sonny Bill Williams this weekend against the Hurricanes.
Williams have not been in the side since week 7 of the tournament when he inured his knee.
Rieko Ioane also return after his rest week to the side as well as Tuipulotu.
Tu’ungafasi will be rested this week which sees Renata making his first start for the Blues this season.
With Williams back Ma’a Nonu will start from the bench which could be his last Super Rugby match.
With TJ Faiane injured Tele’a will start alongside Williams in the midfield and Pulu will also start to pair up with Otere Black.
The Blues also have Clarke back from injury and will start at the right wing with Nani at fullback.
This could be a very tricky game and one that can go either way with the Hurricanes resting so many of their star players.
Some Interesting Facts (OPTA)
- The Hurricanes have won their last eight games on the bounce against the Blues; neither side has previously managed to win nine on the bounce in the history of this fixture.
- The Hurricanes have won their last four home games in succession against the Blues in Super Rugby despite having trailed at half-time twice in that period.
- Each of the Hurricanes’ last four Super Rugby games has been won by the away team on the day, with the ‘Canes picking up three wins (L1) in that time.
- The Hurricanes have lost only one of their last six New Zealand derbies (W4, D1), and have won their last three on the trot.
- The Blues have won only one of their last eight games in Super Rugby (D1, L6), despite having held the lead at half-time in four of those fixtures.
- The Blues have lost their last nine away games in a row in Super Rugby; indeed, it’s been more than a year since they last won on the road in the competition (May 5th, 2018).
- The Hurricanes have won nine turnovers per game this Super Rugby season, more than any other team in the competition.
- The Blues boast the best scrum success rate (97%) on their own feed of any team in Super Rugby 2019 and have lost just one scrum in their last 10 games.
- Ngani Laumape (Hurricanes) has beaten 62 defenders thus far in Super Rugby 2019, the second most of any player in the competition (Samu Kerevi – 66).
- Only two players have made more carries this Super Rugby campaign than Blues’ duo Melani Nanai (165) and Akira Ioane (161), while Nanai (1,123m) is the only player to have gained more than 1,000m this season.
Prediction: This is not easy to call and I am going to gamble on Blues with 9 points
Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 12 Danny Toala, 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Richard Judd, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 Kane Le’aupepe, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Fraser Armstrong.
Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Liam Mitchell, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Jonah Lowe
Blues: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Caleb Clarke, 13 Tanielu Tele’a, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Otere Black, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson (captain), 6 Dalton Papali’i, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Marcel Renata, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Hisa Sasagi, 18 Lua Li, 19 Tom Robinson, 20 Josh Goodhue, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Ma’a Nonu