Rugby: Ngani Laumape set to start for Hurricanes

By Campbell Burnes

Former Warrior Ngani Laumape looks set to start for the Hurricanes. Photo / Richard Robinson.
Former Warrior Ngani Laumape looks set to start for the Hurricanes. Photo / Richard Robinson.

Ngani Laumape looks like he will be starting in the Hurricanes' midfield against the Crusaders and the former Warrior says he is up for it.

The troublesome groin which has hampered him in recent times is "probably 100 percent" and it will need to be to combat the Crusaders' 12-13 combination of Ryan Crotty and David Havili. Laumape started the season in solid fashion but came off the bench against the Waratahs on Saturday night, only to miss Israel Folau straight up as the Wallaby surged to the tryline.

The 23-year-old admits the defensive requirements of rugby are still work-ons as he readjusts to the 15-man code, having missed 13 of his 62 tackle attempts in Super Rugby. However, he is proving a bruising proposition on attack, having scored four tries in his 11 appearances.

"Defensively I have had to do some work. It took me a year or so to get used to league, and now it's taking a while in rugby, but I'm enjoying it," says Laumape.

"I've had some challenges along the way, just being back in rugby has been tough, but it has been a lot of fun at the same time."

But physically Laumape is ready: "I've done all the hard work trying to get this groin right."

He will pair up with Willis Halaholo, but who wears which jersey is to be determined, and will be revealed at Thursday's team naming.

The Hurricanes' midfield options are stretched, with Vince Aso's calf still not ready, and with Matt Proctor nursing a minor hamstring twinge, which was due for a scan this afternoon.

Assistant coach John Plumtree did not rule out starting Proctor, but hamstrings do not come fully right in a week and it would be surely be something of a risk to start him. Pita Ahki, who was loaned to the All Blacks Sevens earlier in the season, could have been another option but he too is injured.

"Willis is the guy we have played the most in midfield this year and he has impressed us. Ngani is good too at 12. That's a bruising midfield we have there, and they might be pretty good together."

Plumtree knows there might be some long distance travel on Sunday, dependent on what transpires in the final round, though he joked that he hoped it wouldn't be to South Africa to alleviate pressure on his "old back."

"We've just talked about beating the Crusaders this week. We could really end up anywhere in the world, but we know where we are going on Saturday," says Plumtree.

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