Rugby: Hurricanes haven't hit the panic button

By Daniel Richardson

Beauden Barrett of the Hurricanes. Photo / Getty Images.
Beauden Barrett of the Hurricanes. Photo / Getty Images.

For a team that have lost their opening two games and were unable to cross the line in last weekend's defeat to the Reds, the Hurricanes are remarkably relaxed ahead of Friday night's game against the Crusaders in Wellington.

The way that Mark Hammett and his men see it is they're only a few dropped passes away from firing and when they do it should be a sight to behold.

Hurricanes pivot Beauden Barrett is the player most likely to get the backline going and he said the opening two games of the season hadn't been part of the plan.

"It has been frustrating. We feel we've played enough rugby to win both games and it's just frustrating not to be able to finish off opportunities that we create and we've created plenty," he said.

"So it's about making good decisions when those opportunities arise; maybe holding on to 50/50 passes but still backing ourselves. We know we are not far away, it's just around the corner and when it clicks it's going to go well."

Hammett also didn't see the point in pushing the panic button and has largely stuck with the same side who have played the opening two games although he has swapped around Brad Shields and Victor Vito this week.

Shields will move from No 8 to blindside for Friday's game, with Vito's experience at the back of the scrum preferred in the key partnership with halfback TJ Perenara.

"We need to keep things in perspective," Hammett said. "From a forward pack point of view, [it's] execution - we haven't quite been finishing things off. But we've had two games, unfortunately been the better team and come out on the wrong end. So I'm not going to go and chase speculation around whether we are not going well. We are going well, we just haven't got the results yet."

This week's game looms as a key one to get a result on the board as three losses to open a Super Rugby season would represent a long road back for Hammett's side, who have playoff potential in them.

Barrett said despite the 0-2 start to the campaign, the Hurricanes weren't low on confidence.

"There's no shortage of that. It's just more frustration than anything. But we just can't wait to play again and when it all clicks there's no doubt we can play well and win any game."

Barrett's defence - or lack thereof - has been a concerning aspect of the opening two games for the Hurricanes and he admitted it was a work in progress.

"It's at the top of the list as well as a few other things so it's a continual work-on and it's just more confidence and trusting my body, trusting my inside and outside men; it's about working in threes," the five-test All Black said.

"It's more technique so I've been working hard on that and growing technique with a bit of confidence as well."

The Crusaders lost their opening game to the Blues last weekend after having a bye in round two and will want to prove there's life in them despite the loss of Richie McCaw who is on sabbatical.

Barrett will also have another chance to go head to head against the man he may one day replace in the All Blacks' No 10 jersey, Dan Carter.

Vito and hooker Dane Coles will both bring up their 50th appearances for the Hurricanes in Friday's game.

Hurricanes: Andrew Taylor, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith (captain), Tim Bateman, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara; Victor Vito, Karl Lowe, Brad Shields, Jason Eaton, Jeremy Thrush, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles, Ben Franks. Reserves: Motu Matu'u /Ash Dixon, Ben May, James Broadhurst, Faifili Levave, Chris Smylie, James Marshall, Reynold Lee-Lo

- APNZ

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