Hurricanes expect returning All Blacks to step up

By Campbell Burnes

Dane Coles of the Hurricanes runs with the ball during the round eight Super Rugby match against the Rebels. Photo / Getty
Dane Coles of the Hurricanes runs with the ball during the round eight Super Rugby match against the Rebels. Photo / Getty

The Hurricanes are hoping for full noise from their All Blacks ahead of Saturday's vital home Super Rugby clash with the Blues at Westpac Stadium.

The quintet of Dane Coles, TJ Perenara, Beauden and the brothers Savea were back at training yesterday for a gym session at the Rugby League Park headquarters, a day ahead of schedule after the intensity of a three-match test series in June.

Captain Coles was the only one to start, and have significant minutes, in all three tests, but he will be good to go this weekend.

Hurricanes assistant coach John Plumtree was quizzed about the re-integration of wing Julian Savea, who endured a difficult series, poor in Auckland, dropped in Wellington and mixed in Dunedin.

"I think everyone's probably sick of hearing about Julian Savea, to be honest," Plumtree said.

"It's up to us to carry on with the work the All Blacks have done with him and up to us that he enjoys his footy while he's back here.

"He's clearly been struggling for a bit of form but the worry for us is that he stops trying things, because that's what happens to good players when they come under pressure. If he stops trying things for us, that'll be a massive blow."

Plumtree poured cold water on speculation that the off-contract Barrett may head to the Blues from 2017. The Blues are searching for the final piece in their future backline jigsaw puzzle, but Barrett has already once rebuffed their offer.

"All of our good people are going to get approached when they come out of contract by somebody and we've got to back ourselves that they enjoy our environment, that they enjoy each other here and we have a pretty happy family," said Plumtree.

The Hurricanes' squad for the Blues match will be named on Thursday afternoon. Back on March 11, they narrowly, and with some luck, defeated the northern franchise 23-19 at Eden Park.

The Hurricanes are third in the New Zealand conference on 40 points, currently sitting in the second wildcard position with three rounds to play before the playoffs.

Last Friday night, the Hurricanes defeated the Melbourne Rebels 33-10 in across the Ditch in atrocious conditions for their final hitout before the competition proper resumes. Utility back Wes Goosen scored a double. Flanker Hugh Renton, after an injury-plagues last two seasons, finally ran out in Hurricanes colours, while midfielder Shaun Treeby also featured for the first time, the former Highlander in as injury cover for Ngani Laumape and the Rio-bound Pita Ahki.

- NZ Herald

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