Preview: Hurricanes v Southern Kings
HEAD TO HEAD: New match
Lock Darron Nell suffered a freak injury in the warm-ups ahead of the Chiefs game and has not recovered. His replacement then, Steven Sykes was injured against the Crusaders. Coming back from a bruised AC joint injury this week is centre Andries Strauss and he has been given the leadership.
The Hurricanes will welcome back Dane Coles who had been out of action for two weeks due to a lower ankle strain while Andre Taylor will return to the fullback position. However, the team went into final training on Thursday with concerns over a calf strain suffered by TJ Perenara and a bruised heel sustained by captain and centre Conrad Smith. Hooker Motu Matu'u is being given another week to recover from his shoulder injury. Prop Jeffery Toomaga-Allen is also still sidelined with his injured sternum while Blade Thomson's ankle strain is expected to keep him out for another four weeks.
It is always a concern coming back after the bye, but the Hurricanes could have done a lot worse than drawing the Kings as their opponent. The first sortie to Australasia for the competition's newest side was demonstrated with their heavy loss to the Crusaders last week. The Hurricanes, after their win over the Highlanders, will be looking for a boost in this game ahead of upcoming games against the Waratahs and the Blues. The slow defence of the Kings cost them dearly and mistakes with ball in hand on attack will not need to be repeated if they are to avoid a similar outcome.
Even with their injury concerns, at halfback especially, the Hurricanes should not be unduly weakened if Perenara is unable to play. Chris Smylie is an experienced performer and the danger is that the Hurricanes could cut loose here. And if Smith is unable to play at centre Alapati Leuia is not a bad sort of replacement. The Kings, to be competitive, face a significant lift in all areas of their game. But the pace at which a rampant Hurricanes team plays should see them achieve a comfortable win. Hurricanes by 12.