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Waikato’s James Tucker to debut for Hurricanes in Super Rugby Pacific

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Veteran Waikato lock James Tucker will debut for the Hurricanes this weekend. Photo / Photosport

Waikato lock James Tucker and 2024 Gallagher Chiefs pre-season squad member Riley Hohepa are poised to make their respective franchise debuts in Super Rugby Pacific this weekend.

Tucker, who has played 69 matches for Waikato, will line up for the Hurricanes in the number 4 jersey against the Blues at Sky Stadium in Wellington.

Counties Manukau first five-eighth Hohepa has been named on the Crusaders bench to face the Fijian Drua.

Hohepa is a great steal for the Crusaders as they look to fill their backline injury void.

Both 29-year-olds have previous Super Rugby experience.

Tucker has 34 Super Rugby caps to his name having represented the Chiefs, Brumbies and Blues since his 2016 debut, while Hohepa represented the Hurricanes twice in 2023.

“We’re looking forward to our first derby game at home this week in front of our fans and supporters. Kiwi derbies are always big games and we’re looking forward to playing at home,” Hurricanes head coach Clark Laidlaw says.

“We’re under no illusion how tough it’s going to be. But we’re excited and up for the challenge.”

The Hurricanes v Blues match will kick off at 7.05pm on Saturday.

Two other players could be added to the Crusaders club alongside Hohepa this weekend. Tahlor Cahill and Jone Rova have also been named on the bench.

The Crusaders released a statement saying that all three “are ready to do what needs to be done to get the team over the line”.

Both the Drua and the Crusaders are looking for their first win of the season, hungry to get a win under the belt and some points on the board.

The last time the Crusaders travelled to Churchill Park in Lautoka, the hosts tipped them over 25-24 in front of a raucous crowd.

The Drua have won five of their last six Super Rugby matches in Fiji, so it’s fair to say the bar is set high for this one.

The Drua v Crusaders match will kick off at 2.05pm on Saturday.

Jesse Wood is a multimedia journalist based in Te Awamutu. He joined the Te Awamutu Courier and NZME in 2020.

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