Coles hits 100 for Hurricanes

Hurricanes captain Dane Coles will start at hooker in Saturday’s Super Rugby semi-final against the Lions in what will be his 100th appearance for the team.

The Wellington hooker’s return is one of two changes to the Hurricanes starting side with the competition’s leading try scorer Vince Aso reclaiming his place at centre in a reshuffled backline.

Coles will become the eleventh player to achieve 100 caps for the Hurricanes after Andrew Hore, Cory Jane, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Rodney So’oialo, Jeremy Thrush, Neemia Tialata, Tana Umaga, Victor Vito and Julian Savea.

“It will be a massive honour to join those players in reaching a milestone that I never thought I would achieve,” he said. “I love pulling on the yellow and black jersey and representing the Hurricanes region and I’ve treasured every opportunity.”

It will be Coles’ first start since he suffered concussion against the Highlanders in round four and comes a week after his successful return via the bench against the Brumbies in Canberra.

Coles, who made his Hurricanes debut against the Waratahs in Wellington in 2009, replaces Ricky Riccitelli in an otherwise unchanged forward pack.

The return of Aso from the groin injury that kept him out of the quarterfinal sees wing Julian Savea move to the reserves at the expense of veteran Cory Jane.

Aso replaces Jordie Barrett at centre with the latter moving back to full-back in place of Nehe Milner-Skudder.

Milner-Skudder shifts to the right wing with Wes Goosen switching sides to start in the No 11 jersey previously held by Savea.

Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Wes Goosen, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brad Shields, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (c), 1 Ben May
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Reed Prinsep, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Otere Black, 23 Julian Savea