Rugby: Reinforcements coming for Hurricanes

By Campbell Burnes

Dane Coles of the Hurricanes. Photo / Getty
Dane Coles of the Hurricanes. Photo / Getty

TJ Perenara's 'refereeing' ability is a hot topic, but it appears it will not be required for this Friday's trans-Tasman Super Rugby clash with the Waratahs in Wellington.

The most prolific tryscoring halfback in Super Rugby history - with an astonishing 40 touchdowns - will be in the Hurricanes' No 9 jersey, no fear, probably up against Wallaby Nick Phipps, but regular captain Dane Coles is in line for a return from injury, as are Vaea Fifita and Cory Jane. The latter duo may be used off the bench, it was hinted today by assistant coach Jason Holland.

"It is all encouraging news for those three. They will obviously be used in different ways, but they are all good to go," he says. The news on No 8 Ardie Savea was better than first feared, but he is likely to at least miss this weekend.

"Ardie has pulled up pretty well, considering, but he has a niggly calf and is pretty doubtful for this week," Holland says.

The Hurricanes will have done their homework on the Waratahs, who were beaten 41-22 on Sunday night by the Crusaders, but the compelling form of Michael Hooper, coupled with that injury to Savea, means the Hurricanes will not be able to use a two-pronged fetching strategy on Friday. The onus will go on No 7 Callum Gibbins to blunt Hooper at the collision zone.

Hooper himself was the Waratahs' best player, scoring a try and seemingly everywhere both with and without the ball, proving once again he is a more well-rounded openside than the people's favourite, David Pocock.

"There's a couple of Aussie No 7s like that who are hard on the ball. We had George Smith last weekend. But the breakdown is a massive part of the game against the Aussies. We want to play with tempo and doing that means we have to move those boys quickly and carry well. That was the focus last week and it will be a focus again for us," adds Holland.

He has plenty on his plate without worrying about questions on funding for Australian Super teams and who should stay or go in any prospective 2018 revamp - he'll leave that to Alan Jones across the Ditch - but Holland did offer this on the intriguingly poor form of most of the Australian franchises in 2017.

"They all look like they can play for good periods, but then switch off and get points put on them. I think it's just a bit of consistency, but they still seem to have some good players," he says.

On that basis, he would like to see more of the erratic 2017 Waratahs on Friday, perhaps again, criminally, under-employing Israel Folau at centre.

- NZ Herald

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