Hurricanes Super Rugby Preview - Green and Gold Rugby
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Hurricanes Super Rugby Preview

Hurricanes Super Rugby Preview

Hurricanes_Logo-700x400Kicking off our previews of the Kiwi conferences, it seems appropriate to start with last years winners, the Hurricanes. The men in black and gold will be aiming to become the fifth team in Super Rugby history (and fourth Kiwi team), to win back-to-back championships.

The Hurricanes hail out of New Zealand’s beautiful capital, Windy Wellington. Until last year’s grand final, the Hurricanes had the rather depressing honour of being the only Kiwi team that had never won a Super Rugby title. But, last year on a rainy night in at the Cake Tin, they took down fellow foundation battlers, the Lions to claim their first ever championship after twenty-one years.

The Hurricanes have been arguably the most dominant side in Super Rugby for the last two seasons, finishing top of the table in 2015 and 2016. They have incredible talent and a solid coach. If they continue their incredible form, they will be the team to beat in 2017.

Beauden Barrett

Beauden Barrett makes light work of the Waratahs at the Cake Tin

The Squad

The Hurricanes have been able to retain the majority of their squad, and boast some seriously formidable firepower, with nine current All Blacks lining up for them. Starting with the forwards, where better to begin than the captain and one of the best hookers in the world, Dane Coles. A legend of the club and an All Black with 49 caps to his name, Coles has taken many players and future All Blacks under his wing since starting at Wellington in 2009. Such players include current prop Jeffery Toomaga-Allen and lock James Broadhurst, who both debuted for the All Blacks last year.

The backs boast even more firepower, with some of the most exciting names in world rugby lining up in the backline. The first is the World Rugby Player of 2016, (and in my opinion, the best player on the planet at the moment): Beauden Barrett. Having spent many years in the shadow of Dan Carter, Barrett has been one of the major cogs behind the All Blacks continued success post the 2015 World Cup. Last year he was the highest point scorer in Super Rugby (with 223 points- or nearly half of all the Hurricanes points from last year), mostly through his lightening attacking style. Add in workhorse scrumhalf TJ Perenara and a ruthless back three in All Black veterans Cory Jane, Julian “The Bus” Savea and All Black newcomer Nehe Milner-Skudder, and you have got one dangerous backline.

The least amount of experience, (and possible Achilles heel) of the Hurricanes is in the Centres, with a LOT of young blood coming into the side. However, one notable name is Jordie Barrett, the younger brother of Beauden Barrett. Jordie made an aggressive first impression at the Brisbane Tens, so watch out for him. (Oh god! There are more of them!)

Key Players: 1. Beauden Barrett   2. Dan Coles    3. TJ Perenara


 

Jordy Barrett offloads, Semi-Final 2, Crusaders v Hurricanes

Jordie Barrett in action at the Brisbane Global Tens, Crusaders vs Hurricanes

The Rugby

If the Kiwis have been the benchmark for Super Rugby in the last two years, then you could argue that the Hurricanes have been the benchmark for the Kiwis. They have topped the table for the last two years running, and much of that has come off the back of their attack, which is one of the most ruthless in the competition. The Hurricanes ability to score tries off brilliant attacking play has been their dominant example of how they have won, as can be seen by the fact that in seven matches last year they picked up a try bonus point for scoring three tries more than the opposition.

Their attack has been brought about by a strong set piece, and coach Chris Boyd will want to ensure that the set piece remains a core element this year, especially considering that the new centres will need time to get used to the pace of Super Rugby. However, with the best attacking player at his disposal in Barrett directing the traffic, expect the Hurricanes to still be potent in the backline.


 

Photo courtesy of Keith McInnes

Photo courtesy of Keith McInnes

The Draw

God, I envy their draw! 2017 sees the Hurricanes start away from home against the Sunwolves in Tokyo. They then will enjoy the next five rounds back in New Zealand hosting the Rebels and Highlanders, playing away against the Chiefs, and having a bye, which will give them a platform for a solid start to their season.

Round 6 sees the Hurricanes travelling to Brisbane on a one week tour, followed by seven more weeks in New Zealand hosting the Waratahs, Brumbies, Stormers and Cheetahs, and playing away against the Blues and Crusaders, with a second bye in Round 10. However, Round 14 sees them head over to South Africa to play the Bulls, and the Force in Perth the week after. The Hurricanes will then finish their regular season with two home games to the Chiefs and Crusaders.

The key for the Hurricanes is their periods in New Zealand. With three tours, their season will be made on how they perform against the other Kiwi teams, and at home during the middle of the season. The fact they spend so much uninterrupted time in New Zealand will work in their favour, and a good performance will make up for potential losses on the tough tour and home games at seasons end.


Nehe Milner-Skudder, Semi-Final 2, Crusaders v Hurricanes

Nehe Milner-Skudder at the Brisbane Global Tens, Crusaders v Hurricanes

Prediction

With the form and the players to match, and a favourable draw, it is a real distinct possibility that the Hurricanes will go back-to-back this year. Even if they don’t perform at their best, it would be ridiculous to not at least see them make the semi-finals.

This is a good team. They have topped the Kiwi table (and table in general) for the last two years, and I honest to God can see them doing it again. You know you’ve got a good team when even the Kiwi sides struggle against you. So I think this year they will top the Kiwi conference once again (and probably the overall table as well).

New Zealand Conference – 1st and Super Rugby Champions

Hurricanes Squad and Fixtures 

  • Lee Grant

    Great article Nick – hard to see anybody beating them in 2017 but some other Kiwi team could get up I suppose – and it’s about time the Crusaders did better.

    What a draw? That should have been awarded to some other team that needed it.
    .

    • Nicholas Wasiliev

      Amen to that. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it! Lucky buggers.

  • Brent Craig

    Really, really good write-up mate.

    FWIW (not much, I know) ‘canes beat Crusaders 33-27 in their final trial. Changed their entire XV at HT & came through with only one minor injury scare, NM-S going off with a hamstring twinge.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks for the write up mate. The Hurricanes has been my team since the start of this rugby and boy have they been a frustrating team. However, they are looking good and m hopeful

    • Lee Grant

      I’ve been a big fan for a while but especially recently when they started playing the brand of rugby that was both effective and thrilling, even to home fans of other sides.

      Cheika was a big fan and gave them a big wrap when they were in Sydney, in 2014, I think.

      It must have been good for them to get the monkey off their backs last year and win the chocolates at last.

      That was a good final for neutrals: we admired the Lions and how they had come back after being relegated, but we admired the style of rugby that that the Canes played also – a bit like Aussie rugby but played at a higher level.
      .

  • Kokonutcreme

    “The key for the Hurricanes is their periods in New Zealand”

    That seven week stretch after round 6 where they host teams from other conferences could prove to be lucrative for the Canes if they’re good enough to exploit home advantage and win all of them. Canes have been a bogey team for the Crusaders in recent years and trips to Christchurch haven’t been ones to dread as they used to be. The Blues could prove to be a banana skin at Eden Park, they play a similar style of game to the Canes but still lack the authority at 10. However the talent outside 10 will hurt a lot of teams.

    Local derby victories will count as double points. Teams in each of the NZ and OZ conferences are closely matched and it will be a real dogfight to get to the all important pole position for the conference and overall table. Wins against teams from other conferences help promote positions but you need to knock off your local rivals.

  • Danny McGowan

    Great write up Nick, as a Canes man from the beginning I was one of the many relieved last year. I not sure their midfield will be too weal, mind you I a Proctor fan and think Lampape maybe quite good with a bit of experience under belt, and I don’t mind Ahki! I not too convinced that Jordie Barrett will get a hell of a lot of time as a starter, especially in midfield he will come into that role in a year or two. Other thing I think we tend to miss at times is how good Plumtree is as a defensive coach.

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@Nick_Wasiliev

Die-hard Brumbies/Country Eagles fan now based in Sydney. Author, anthropologist, musician and second-rower trying to kick start a writing career in an increasingly bonkers world...

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