Rugby 4.8.2016 09:06 am

Hurricanes captain Coles bracketed at hooker with Riccitelli

Dane Coles (c) of the Hurricanes. Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Dane Coles (c) of the Hurricanes. Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

The Hurricanes are appearing in their third final, a decade after their ill-fated first attempt in the Christchurch fog of 2006, and their second consecutive one at home.

Dane Coles, Hurricanes captain, has once again been bracketed for Saturday’s Investec Super Rugby final against the Lions at a sold-out Westpac Stadium in New Zealand.

If Coles is fit to play he would be the only potential change to the team that started the semifinal win over the Chiefs at the same venue last weekend.

Ricky Riccitelli, who started at hooker against the Chiefs, has once again been bracketed with his skipper for the final, while there are also two late calls to be made in the reserves.

Openside Callum Gibbins, who missed the semifinal with an Achilles injury, has once again been bracketed with Tony Lamborn, while prop Reggie Goodes has also been bracketed with Mike Kainga as he continues to work through concussion protocols.

Head coach Chris Boyd said the situation with Coles was similar to last week.

“Colesy has made good progress each day and clearly, he’s very keen to play in the final. He will do everything he can to be fit for kick-off and if he doesn’t make it then we have every confidence Ricky and Leni step up and do a good job if required.

“It’s a similar situation on the bench where we’re very fortunate to have some quality depth should Callum or Reggie not be able to prove their fitness in time. We will give them all as much time as they need before making the final call.”

Saturday’s final promises to be a special occasion with 36 500 fans packed into Westpac Stadium.

Both teams come into the match after convincing semifinal wins. The Hurricanes scored three tries in beating the Chiefs 25-9 in Wellington, while the Lions beat last year’s champions the Highlanders 42-30 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

Both clubs are looking for their first Investec Super Rugby title.

The Hurricanes are appearing in their third final, a decade after their ill-fated first attempt in the Christchurch fog of 2006, and their second consecutive one at home.

The Lions are playing in their first final and are seeking to become the first South African winners of the competition since the Bulls claimed the last of their three titles in 2010.

The Hurricanes team for Saturday’s final: James Marshall, Cory Jane, Matt Proctor, Willis Halaholo, Jason Woodward, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara (vice-captain), Victor Vito, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Michael Fatialofa, Vaea Fifita, Ben May, Dane Coles (captain)/Ricky Riccitelli, Loni Uhila.
Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli/Leni Apisai, Chris Eves, Michael Kainga/Reggie Goodes, Mark Abbott, Callum Gibbins/Tony Lamborn, Jamison Gibson-Park, Vince Aso, Julian Savea.
Injured: Ngani Laumape (groin), Blade Thomson (shoulder), Nehe Milner-Skudder (shoulder), Jeff Toomaga-Allen (broken arm), Motu Matu’u (broken arm).

– African News Agency (ANA)

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