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Former Wallaby Morgan Turinui has described the ladder-leading Hurricanes as “a European-style team” with coach Clark Laidlaw utilising the team’s incredible depth once again.

After raising some eyebrows with an incredible 14 changes to their starting 15 to play the Melbourne Rebels in Palmerston North last week, the Hurricanes have basically done it again.

All Blacks Tyrel Lomax and Jordie Barrett, joined by former England international and team captain Brad Shields, are the only players to have retained their spots in the run-on side for round six.

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The Hurricanes have welcomed back the likes of Asafo Aumua, Peter Lakai, Cam Roigard, Billy Proctor and Ruben Love as they look to extend their unbeaten run to six matches.

But as Morgan Turinui explained, making mass changes like this can come at a cost and that makes the Hurricanes’ trip south to Dunedin a “huge danger game” against the Highlanders.

“Can you run through the list of the changes for the Canes as well? Every single one. It’s crazy. It’s a European-style team with the amount of depth, two almost full teams,” Turinui said on Stan Sports’ The Call Up.

“The Highlanders have done a lot right this year. They’ve toughed it out when needed to. They probably haven’t finished off and has been as clinical as they wanted to be with lots of opportunities they create.

“Everyone gets excited seeing (Jona) Nareki, seeing their back three play. They’re better than a spoiler team even though I want to talk about them being a ‘spoiler’ against the top sides.

“I think this is a huge danger game for the Hurricanes because at some stage, yes having depth is great, but changing your team week in, week out… it’s got to cost you in terms of rhythm of play and a bit of cohesion at some stage. Maybe it is this week.”

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Turinui is still backing the Hurricanes to get the job done on Saturday evening and the Australian isn’t alone with former Highlanders winger Jeff Wilson also tipping the men from the capital.

The Hurricanes have named a star-studded squad from numbers 1 to 23, with Pouri Rakete-Stones, Justin Sangster, Du’Plessis Kirifi and TJ Perenara among those on the bench.

Wilson, who is a former All Black, joked about wanting to predict an upset win for the Highlanders but couldn’t look past the Hurricanes.

“Ultimately they would’ve planned for it at some point giving these guys an opportunity. It’s very interesting. The Blues did something very similar in round three,” Wilson added.

“I think, up until now, but to your point (gesturing to Turinui), how long they do that, how much that start tinkering with it, they’ll have to manage a few All Black rest week.

“This is a real challenge for the Highlanders but what we saw from the Highlanders is the fact that… they can be dangerous. If you don’t put them away and you go to sleep, and the Chiefs went to sleep on them, then what they’ll look at it is, ‘We’ve got nothing to lose in this gam’ because they are the underdog.

“The Highlanders lost some momentum against the Brumbies in Dunedin where they didn’t play Rhys Patchell… this is a big tough challenge for the Highlanders and we’ll have to wait and see if they can hang in long enough under the roof in Dunedin.”



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