Ben Lam recalled to starting XV for Julian Savea as Hurricanes make three changes for Chiefs

The Hurricanes have made three changes to their squad for this week's clash with the Chiefs in Hamilton, most notably recalling tournament-leading try-scorer Ben Lam in place of in-form winger Julian Savea.

Lam returns to the backline after being benched in last week's comfortable win over the Blues at home, claiming the No.11 jersey in an effective swap with Savea.

Elsewhere, Jeff Toomaga-Allen has returned to the starting XV for his 100th Hurricanes appearance while another injury to Vaea Fifita has seen his name scratched once again.

Fifita has suffered a toe injury this time around, meaning Michael Fatialofa and Sam Lousi will be the locking combination this week.

Otherwise, the Hurricanes' starting team remains the same, including last week's new-look  backline featuring Wes Goosen in the midfield, Nehe Milner-Skudder on the wing and Jordie Barrett at fullback.

Coach Chris Boyd said the little shuffle was to give everyone the chance to put their best case forward with a playoff game, coincidentally against the Chiefs, looming next week.

"On balance, our best winger in the last month or so has probably Julian and so we've given Ben and [right wing] Nehe an opportunity this week," he said.

"Julian's made way and Ben comes back in and he gets a chance to stake a claim."

Boyd added Goosen had earned another week in the midfield for a "tidy" performance against the Blues, but warns he isn't a "given" to stay there.

"If Wes doesn't go so well, then we'd be comfortable to push Jordie back into 13 so there's sort of four guys there playing for three positions and just whoever wears the reserve's jersey is the only thing to be sorted out really."

The Hurricanes and Chiefs clash in Hamilton on Friday at 7:30pm NZT.

Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Wes Goosen, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Blade Thomson, Sam Henwood, Brad Shields (c), Sam Lousi, Michael Fatialofa, Jeff To'omaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Toby Smith

Reserves: James O'Reilly, Chris Eves, Ben May, Gareth Evans, Reed Prinsep, Finlay Christie, Ihaia West, Julian Savea

Ben Lam runs to the try line during Rebels v Hurricanes, 2018 Super Rugby season, AAMI Park, Melbourne, Australia. 30 March 2018. Copyright Image: Brendon Asanka / www.photosport.nz
Ben Lam in action for the Hurricanes against the Melbourne Rebels during a Super Rugby match. Source: Photosport


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'I'm sure we'll see his game go to even greater heights' - All Blacks star Rieko Ioane signs long term deal with NZ Rugby

Star winger Rieko Ioane has committed to the All Blacks for four more years in a significant win for New Zealand Rugby.

The 21-year-old, who has scored 18 tries from 18 Tests, was the subject of intense offshore club interest but has chosen to remain put at his Super Rugby team the Blues.

His deal is the longest of any current All Black, taking him to the end of 2022.

Ioane was last year crowned World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year and was also a nominee for the main award.

His electric pace and nose for the tryline has been a key element for the world champions, most notably on last year's tour of Europe when he single-handedly proved the difference in Test wins over Scotland and Wales.

"I want to give it my best shot at serving the black jersey and, hopefully, I'll get the chance to play at the Rugby World Cup in the future. That's a huge motivator for me," he said.

Akira Ioane was an unlucky exclusion from Steve Hansen's squad this morning.
Source: 1 NEWS

Ioane's older brother Akira, 23, has also extended his NZ Rugby contract, until 2021.

The powerful Blues No.8 is yet to be capped but played a midweek match for the All Blacks in France last November.

Both brothers are former New Zealand sevens stars who are regarded by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen as among the country's premier young players.

"With his growing maturity and growth in his game understanding, I'm sure we'll see Rieko's game go to even greater heights," Hansen said.

"Akira is also an immense talent who has a bright future in our national game and we congratulate him on his decision as well."

(L to R) Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane and Akira Ioane,
All Blacks training session ahead of the upcoming test series against France. Alexandra Park. Auckland, New Zealand. Tuesday 22 May 2018. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
Rieko Ioane and Akira Ioane during an All Blacks training session in Auckland. Source: Photosport


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All Blacks star Rieko Ioane signs four year deal with NZ Rugby

All Blacks winger Rieko Ioane has signed a new four-year deal with New Zealand Rugby today.

The 21-year-old was named World Rugby's breakout player of the year in 2017 and has been outstanding for the national side since making his debut in 2016.

Brother Akira also signed a new three-year deal with NZ Rugby.

Rieko has scored 18 tries in 18 Tests, including a double against South Africa in Wellington last week in the All Blacks' 36-34 loss.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said it was "fantastic news for New Zealand Rugby. Rieko is a young player with undoubted talent who has already achieved wonderful things on the international stage."

Rieko said he felt "incredibly privileged to get the opportunity to play my rugby here for another four years." He said playing at a World Cup was "a huge motivator for me."

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said last month that Rieko is key player for the future.

"He's a vital component of our plan going forward," said Foster.

"I can't speak highly enough about him. He came in with a bit of a swagger and he has learned about the All Blacks.

"What I like is he has got real maturity about him, he hasn't got ahead of himself, and he quietly goes about his work."

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The new deal will see Rieko stay in New Zealand until the end of 2022 with Akira signed until the end of 2021.

"He's learning how to prepare better and better every test match, and when he goes out and plays he seems to enjoy doing what he's done since he was a kid. As long as we can keep him in that mode it's really exciting."

Rieko Ioane scores his second try.
New Zealand All Blacks v South Africa Springboks. Rugby Championship test match. Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand. Saturday 15 September 2018. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
All Blacks winger Rieko Ioane scores his second try against the Springboks. Source: Photosport


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Wallabies star Israel Folau wins Waratahs MVP award despite controversial year

Superstar fullback Israel Folau has won the Matthew Burke Cup, the NSW Waratahs players' players award.

The Wallabies back polled 99 votes, to finish ahead of captain and openside flanker Michael Hooper (77), backrower Michael Wells (71) and inside centre Kurtley Beale (65).

Votes were cast on a 3-2-1 basis by members of each match day squad after the Waratahs Super Rugby games.

Wells won the Waratahs best forward award and Beale took out the gong for their best back.

The NSW women's player of the year was veteran back Ash Hewson, who captained her state to the inaugural Super W title.

SYDNEY, NSW - MARCH 18: Waratahs player Israel Folau (14) looks towards the scoreboard at round 5 of the Super Rugby between Waratahs and Rebels at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on March 18, 2018. (Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire)
Waratahs player Israel Folau. Source: Photosport


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Rampaging Northland forwards combine for exquisite try as Taniwha dominate Southland

Northland piled on the hurt for Southland in the Mitre 10 Cup, handing the visitors their 17th consecutive loss with the Taniwha winning 26-10 at Toll Stadium in Whangārei last night.

The home team dominated the Stags in the first spell, running in three tries to lead at the break 19-3.

The try of the match came in the 17th minute, when several Northland forwards combined down the left edge for a brilliant play.

Number eight Matt Matich made a line-break from the back of the breakdown just outside the Stag's 40 metre line, then linked up with Isileli Tu'ungafasi who bowled over Southland's halfback Jay Renton with ease after a charging run.

Northland quickly shifted the ball down the left flank where Kara Pryor threw a dummy before popping up a perfect pass to Matich who crossed over for Northland's second try of the match.

The Taniwha will now take on Hawke's Bay next on Wednesday at McLean Park in Napier.

Northland sit third on the Mitre 10 Cup Championship ladder.

Northland 26: (Matt Mattich, Sam Nock, Murray Douglas 2 tries; Jack Debreczeni 3 cons)

Southland 10: (Manaaki Selby-Rickit try; James Wilson pen, Broc Hooper con) HT: 19-3

The Taniwha defeated the Stags 26-10 in Whangārei. Source: SKY


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