Chris Eves will bring up 50 caps for the Hurricanes tonight. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES
By Jake Beleski
Chris Eves came down to Wellington to fill in for a day, and three years later he will run out onto Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane for his 50th Hurricanes cap.
The versatile prop has become a mainstay in the Hurricanes’ line-up in recent seasons, with his ability to play both sides of the scrum seen as a tremendous asset.
He has started the majority of his 49 matches from the bench, but has been handed the No 1 jersey for tonight’s clash with the Reds.
“It means a lot to me to get to 50 games . . . I was pretty happy to get just one,” Eves said.
“I came down to Wellington to fill in for a day and here I am about to play my 50th.”
It was a daunting environment when Eves first arrived, with a dressing room full of superstars to get used to.
He quickly realised the Conrad Smith’s and TJ Perenara’s of the team were more than welcoming, and began to gain respect for his workmanlike approach.
“My first day when I saw those guys I was pretty overwhelmed.
“All those big names were here and now I’m sitting next to them.”
Coach Chris Boyd said Eves had become an important part of the Hurricanes machine.
“It would have taken a lot of people by surprise that he’s played 50 games.
“He didn’t start on the traditional route, but he’s become an important member of our team.”
The Hurricanes are coming off a bye, and have made only one change to the starting side that beat the Highlanders in round four.
Dane Coles has been given a week off, meaning Ricky Riccitelli takes his place in the No 2 jumper.
Boyd said Coles could have played “at a pinch”, but they wanted to give him an opportunity to return to peak fitness.
The Hurricanes should have some familiar faces available for selection next week, with Boyd hinting Vaea Fifita and Cory Jane were likely to come back into contention for selection.
For now, he was only looking as far as the Reds.
“They’ve got a really good home record and they’re tough to play at Suncorp Stadium.
“If you look at the Reds in particular they beat the Sharks at home and probably should have beaten the Crusaders – they’re a dangerous beast.”
Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Vince Aso, Matt Proctor, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara (c), Ardie Savea, Callum Gibbins, Brad Shields, Michael Fatialofa, Mark Abbott, Jeffery To’omaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves.
Reserves: Leni Apisai, Ben May, Mike Kainga, Sam Lousi, Reed Prinsep, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Otere Black, Pita Ahki.