Savea shuffle nudges CJ out

In deciding that wing Wes Goosen had to start the Hurricanes' Super Rugby semifinal against the Lions, coach Chris Boyd had bad news for Cory Jane too.

These are serious players. World Cup winners and veterans of more than 100 games each for the Hurricanes.

That Boyd felt compelled to drop Savea to the bench and exclude Jane from the 23 to play at Ellis Park on Saturday (Sunday morning NZ Time), speaks volumes for how much he must rate Goosen. 

"Wes is fast, he's probably the quickest guy we've got over short-ish periods. He's strong, he's got a massive workrate and he's just been accurate, so everything we've asked him to do he's done for us," Boyd said from Johannesburg.

And the coach felt Goosen deserved to be rewarded for that.

Savea took the news hard and Boyd expects a response, when a chance off the bench presents itself. As for Jane, this is his last season with the franchise and he faces the prospect bowing out in a fluro vest, running water bottles and instructions from the coaches.

But, as Boyd noted, there were a few blokes with strong selection claims who had to be squeezed in, once centre Vince Aso was declared fit to play.

"We talked during the year that when we get to the back-end of the season, reputation counts for nothing and form will dictate selection," said Boyd.

"At the end of the day we were keen to get Vince back into the midfield in partnership with Ngani, where they've performed pretty well in Matt Proctor's absence. So, with Vince going in there, there was a bit of a log-jam."

Jordie Barrett, who'd done an able job in Aso's place, has returned to fullback. That pushed Nehe Milner-Skudder back to the right wing, where Goosen had played to such good effect in the quarterfinal win over the Brumbies.

In the end Goosen swapped sides and Savea got the tap on the shoulder.

The dice felt better for captain Dane Coles, who'll make his first start since March 18 following last week's 30-odd minutes off the bench. In doing so, the hooker will become the eleventh Hurricane - after Andrew Hore, Jane, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Rodney So'oialo, Jeremy Thrush, Neemia Tialata, Tana Umaga, Victor Vito and make 100 appearances for the franchise.

Coles grew up in Hurricanes country and dreamed of playing for the team from a young age. One game would've been plenty, so 100 seems hard to comprehend.

"I used to go to the games and catch the train in from the [Kapiti] coast and watch them at the stadium, so it's always been the team I supported," Coles said of the milestone.

"I think it just shows how hard I've worked to get to where I am today and all the persistence and the times I used to sit on the bench behind a legend [Hore] and stuff like that. I'm just stoked that I've been given the chance and I've played so many games for a club that I love and a jersey that I love.

"So it means a lot to me and my family and I suppose my friends that have supported me all the time. So very humbled that I've been given the chance to start and play a hundred games for the club."

Beyond Coles and Ricky Riccitelli swapping places, the pack is unchanged from that which met the Brumbies. Now, more than ever, the onus is on the blokes in jerseys 1 to 8 to make sure their star-studded backline can play.

Coles knows that as well as anyone.

HURRICANES: Jordie Barrett, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Wes Goosen, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Brad Shields, Ardie Savea, Vaea Fifita, Sam Lousi, Mark Abbott, Jeff To'omaga-Allen, Dane Coles (c), Ben May. Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves, Loni Uhila, Reed Prinsep, Callum Gibbins, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Otere Black, Julian Savea



Photo by: HAGEN HOPKINS/GETTY IMAGES (Julian Savea has been benched for the semifinal against the Lions).