Game one has been a long time coming for Hurricanes players and management.
After ten weeks of gruelling pre-season training, the group are itching to get out on the park and put their conditioned bodies and game plans to the test.
In his first run as coach for the team, Chris Boyd has named a line-up featuring a raft of fresh faces.
Brayden Mitchell, Geoff Cridge, Jason Woodward and Vince Aso will get their first start for the Hurricanes alongside a number of experienced heads, while newcomers Leni Apisai, Tolu Fahamokioa, Vaea Fifita, Iopu Iopu-Aso, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Otere Black, Willis Halaholo and Ope Peleseuma will all be waiting in the wings to impress.
Manawatu halfback Jamie Booth has also been called into the reserves for Chris Smylie, who suffered a calf niggle during the team’s camp in Gisborne this week.
Boyd said the team had had enough of training, and just wanted to get out there and play.
“It’s a good chance to identify things that might need some extra focus before we head to Africa, and it’s obviously an opportunity for the guys to put their hands up and work towards securing a spot on that tour.
“We’re looking forward to getting out there, and we know Eketahuna will put on a festive atmosphere which will be a great environment for both the teams and spectators.”
The team to face the Crusaders at Eketahuna on Saturday, kick-off 3pm is;
1. Ben Franks 2. Brayden Mitchell 3. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen 4. Geoff Cridge 5. Mark Abbott 6. Brad Shields 7. Ardie Savea 8. Blade Thomson 9. Frae Wilson 10. James Marshall 11. Jason Woodward 12. Rey Lee-Lo 13. Matt Proctor 14. Vince Aso 15. Nehe Milner-Skudder
16. Leni Apisai 17. Reggie Goodes 18. Chris Eves 19. Tolu Fahamokioa 20. Mike Kainga 21. Vaea Fifita 22. Iopu Iopu-Aso 23. Heiden Bedwell-Curtis 24. Jamie Booth 25. Otere Black 26. Willis Halaholo 27. Ope Peleseuma