Hurricanes need 'vital' win over Blues

Dane Coles of the Hurricanes runs in for a try during the round seven Super Rugby match against the Jaguares at Westpac Stadium. Photo / Getty
Dane Coles of the Hurricanes runs in for a try during the round seven Super Rugby match against the Jaguares at Westpac Stadium. Photo / Getty

The Hurricanes have not lain awake at night doing mathematical sums to determine their Super Rugby playoffs chances.

They know that three wins from the final three regular season games will be enough to get them into the playoffs, they know they could probably afford to drop one game and still make it, but any more and the noose will tighten.

So all that means tomorrow night's home match against the Blues assumes vital importance, after the sweet victory over the Highlanders at the end of May. Lose that, and they will need to lower both the Waratahs and Crusaders away to guarantee their berth as one of the top wildcards.

"Our All Blacks know all about their All Blacks. Our guys know all about their guys," says Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd. "The Blues are chockful of quality players. They are more than capable as a team and as individuals."

Unlike the Chiefs and Crusaders, Boyd has included all five of his All Blacks in the starting XV.

"I don't think any of them wanted a rest, and we were keen for them to play, so they are playing."

The burden of driving the game plan and some of the moves was removed from the likes of TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett early in the week, but only hooker and captain Dane Coles saw extensive minutes in the series against Wales.

As is often the case in the week following the June window, media attention turned to the schedule and the draw, with the general agreement that playing New Zealand sides twice is physically sapping, albeit enjoyable. Both Boyd and Coles said the draw "is what it is." But Boyd answered honestly: "There's possibly a bigger picture with the conference system. My personal preference would be to play everyone once, but all know what it is and all just get on with it."

Reg Goodes will fancy having a crack at new All Black Ofa Tu'ungafasi in the scrums, while the battle between Victor Vito and Steven Luatua, two top lineout forwards, will be instructive. Japan-bound Cory Jane will have his hands full with Highlanders-bound Tevita Li. Hooker Motu Matu'u broke his arm playing for Samoa, so Ricky Riccitelli will be the back-up rake.

The Hurricanes defeated the Blues 23-19 at Eden Park back on March 11. The Blues have had their issues, but showed their mettle in a narrow defeat to the Crusaders on May 28.

"Their defence against the Crusaders was awesome. They had good intensity, and we will have to match their pack and intensity," says Coles.

Hurricanes team to play the Blues: James Marshall, Cory Jane, Matt Proctor, Vince Aso, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Michael Fatialofa, Vaea Fifita, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles (c), Reggie Goodes.

Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves, Loni Uhila, Mark Abbott, Tony Lamborn, Jamison Gibson-Park, Willis Halaholo, Jason Woodward

- NZ Herald

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