Rugby: New breed of Hurricane puts fracas behind him

James Broadhurst says the criticism levelled at the franchise has not really penetrated the camp. Photo / Getty Images
James Broadhurst says the criticism levelled at the franchise has not really penetrated the camp. Photo / Getty Images

Towering lock James Broadhurst represents everything there is to like about next year's Hurricanes squad.

Bearing in mind this is a group shorn of their biggest stars after Andrew Hore and Ma'a Nonu were shown the door by coach Mark Hammett midway through the 2011 season and a flurry of other players jumped off the seemingly sinking ship.

Broadhurst though, who was born in Kaitaia and educated during his high school years at Campion College in Gisborne, is part of the new breed.

A member of the Hurricanes since 2010, the 2.01m second-rower, who has a handshake like a vice, is a player on the rise.

Broadhurst played in all of the Hurricanes' games in 2011, including making nine consecutive starts.

He was also part of the successful Taranaki provincial side that won the Ranfurly Shield from Southland this year, which capped a strong campaign for the 24-year-old.

His game time with Taranaki was limited as he sat behind former All Black Jason Eaton and Chiefs lock Craig Clarke in the second-row pecking order.

"It was obviously a bit mixed with Super rugby, but being involved with Taranaki again was awesome," he said of his year.

"Winning the shield was pretty special and I didn't have to play too much so it was all right. We just had some pretty capable boys in Craig Clarke and Jason Eaton, so it was actually a bit of a holiday. Nah, 2011 was a good year and I just can't wait to get stuck into 2012."

What this year will bring for the Hurricanes remains to be seen, but with a side that has potential in droves, the chances for players like Broadhurst to make a name for themselves are prominent.

"We want to win," Broadhurst said. "We are not here to lose. We are not here to come second. Just because we lost a few players doesn't mean we are going to fall apart. We've got a good bunch of really good guys that are all here to work for each other and I think if we do just that then we'll be fine."

As for the criticism levelled at the franchise and the dire predictions for the 2012 campaign, Broadhurst said that hadn't infiltrated the thoughts of their camp. "I think that's everyone else, really. We don't care, we just get on with it, training hard and doing what we can to put everything behind us."

After the players endured a taxing five-week pre-season campaign during November and December they broke up for Christmas and New Year to spend some rare time with their families.

The Christmas break for Broadhurst includes some time in Kaitaia, to where his parents have returned from Gisborne, a few stints with the fishing rod and a trip or two to the beach.

Having previously been tied up with the Crusaders after starting his provincial career with Canterbury in 2007, Broadhurst said this year's longer pre-season was a throwback to his days in Christchurch.

"It's been five weeks, so it's been a good chunk. But I remember my first-ever involvement with Super rugby was with the Crusaders and that was a month-long stint and I think we got pretty lucky the last couple of years where we didn't have to train too long. But it's actually been really good and everyone's in awesome shape, so it's been really positive.

"I think just the way the game's going, you've got to be fit. Obviously everyone's speeding up and everyone's getting, fitter, stronger and faster. So, everybody's got to keep up somehow if you want to compete. So I think it's helped a lot and like you say, with the drawn-out competition, it's going to be pretty key."

As for 2012, which will be the longest Super rugby campaign to date with an international window in June, Broadhurst wants to keep the goals simple.

"I think I've got to be realistic. But, I think just cementing my spot in the Hurricanes and for Taranaki is probably my No 1 goal. Just concentrating on the Hurricanes first and foremost and getting a few wins and I think if everyone has that same sort of goal then we'll be in good stead."

- APNZ

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