Rugby: Conrad Smith cleared to start

Conrad Smith fends Chris Noakes of the Blues during the round two Super Rugby match between the...
Conrad Smith fends Chris Noakes of the Blues during the round two Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Blues. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
Conrad Smith has given his Hurricanes team a big boost after being named in the side to play the Reds in Brisbane on Friday.

All Blacks centre Smith, the Hurricanes captain, had been under a cloud this week after failing a pitch-side concussion test at Westpac Stadium during the defeat by the Blues at the weekend.

After passing a computer-based psychometric examination on Monday, he underwent a fitness test later in the day and no ill-effects were reported yesterday.

Smith, who suffered a bad concussion in 2010, collided with Rene Ranger in the 70th minute of the 34-20 defeat.

The new pitch-side test has been introduced to Super Rugby this season.

The Hurricanes leave for Brisbane today looking for improvements after a subdued performance against the Blues on Saturday, and Smith's leadership and defensive nous against the likes of dangermen Quade Cooper and Digby Ioane could be crucial.

The Reds lost their opener to the Brumbies in Canberra but responded with a victory over their closest rivals the Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium - although, after leading 17-3 at one point they needed a late Ben Tapuai try to break a 17-all deadlock to win.

Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett has made only one change to the starting XV, with Jeffery Toomaga-Allen coming in at tighthead prop for Ben May. An improved performance up front will be a particular focus for Hammett after his side struggled to make an impact against a Blues team missing the likes of prop Tony Woodcock, now at the Highlanders, and hooker Keven Mealamu, who is making a late start to the season.

First-five Beauden Barrett and halfback TJ Perenara, two bright young things from last season, will also be looking to make greater impacts.

On the reserves bench, hard-hitting hooker Motu Matu'u is in line to make his first appearance for his team this year after suffering a pectoral injury during pre-season training. Lock James Broadhurst will wear the No18 jersey ahead of Mark Reddish, who has a hamstring injury.

Meanwhile, there was also good news at the Chiefs yesterday (Tue), with hookers Hika Elliot and Mahonri Schwalger coming into the frame for Saturday night's match against the Cheetahs at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.

Elliot missed his team's impressive opening victory over the Highlanders in Dunedin due to a calf injury suffered late in the week, with Schwalger sidelined following knee surgery.

In the absence of the experienced pair, Rhys Marshall, a 20-year-old who has yet to play a senior provincial match, made a fine fist of his Super Rugby debut.

The Cheetahs travel to Hamilton after losing their opening match to the Sharks in Bloemfontein.

Hurricanes team to play the Reds at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Friday, kick-off 11.20pm, is: Andre Taylor, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith (c), Tim Bateman, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Brad Shields, Karl Lowe, Victor Vito, Jason Eaton, Jeremy Thrush, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles, Ben Franks. Reserves: Motu Motu'u, Reggie Goodes, James Broadhurst, Faifili Levave, Chris Smylie, James Marshall, Reynold Lee-Lo.


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