Rugby: Hurricanes taking it easy for 10s

By Campbell Burnes

Jordie Barrett from the Hurricanes fends off Blues player Tamati Tua during the preseason Super Rugby match played between the Blues and the Hurricanes. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
Jordie Barrett from the Hurricanes fends off Blues player Tamati Tua during the preseason Super Rugby match played between the Blues and the Hurricanes. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

The Hurricanes appear not to be taking this weekend's Brisbane 10s all that seriously.

While that may not be music to the ears of the fans at Suncorp Stadium and promoters Duco Events, the reality is the defending Super Rugby champions are working towards "the bigger picture", which is their February 25 competition opener in Tokyo against the Sunwolves.

"It's a good opportunity for the boys to cap off their pre-season. A lot of them are pretty excited about having that extra space. Some of our backs are dying to have a crack. We have to keep in mind it is a good extension of pre-season, but any guys with niggles we aren't going to risk because the bigger picture is Tokyo.

We are going to have a good crack but we are not going to give it too much training time," says Hurricanes assistant coach and 2016 NZ Schools coach Jason Holland, adding that there is still scope for players at the 10s to enhance their reputation and even push for a match-day squad berth for the Sunwolves match.

Prop Reggie Goodes left the field in last Saturday's pre-season hitout against the Blues with a head knock, but Holland said that was more precautionary than serious. Goodes, who had concussion problems in 2016, will not travel to the 10s.

Fellow bookend and Former All Blacks prop Jeffery Toomaga-Allen will not be travelling to Brisbane either, though that there was never part of his rehab plan as he returns to the field.

"I'm strong, I'm fit, probably in the best nick of my career," he says, perhaps still mindful of the Hurricanes' slow start to 2016, which elicited Phil Kearns' "slow and unfit" comments about the team after the Brumbies put 50 on them in the opener. They came right, need it be said.

"I would like (to play) the 10s, but, it's a pretty lame answer, I want to focus on my scrummaging, and the 10s won't provide that. I want to get technical and I'm looking to be ready for that Crusaders (February 17) game. I find that it is a big challenge against them and that's an opportunity to push myself," says the 26-year-old.

Departing Wellington on Thursday night, the Hurricanes will face the Force, Toulon and Highlanders in group play on Saturday and Sunday in the 10s.

The Hurricanes have ramped up their membership numbers to over 6000, while their February 17 last pre-season hitout against the Crusaders in Waverley has sold out. The home of the Border Rugby Club, and Guy Lennox, is geographically south Taranaki, which is Chiefs territory, but is north Wanganui (Hurricanes) in rugby terms.

- NZ Herald

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