Thrill as Canes blow in


The Hurricanes spent two busy days in Wairarapa before their final pre-season Super 15 rugby game in Mangatainoka on Saturday.

More than 400 kids turned out to see their heroes' open training session in Masterton late Thursday afternoon.

Friday kicked off with a visit to the children in the Kids Kai Time programme at Lakeview School. The kids enjoyed a run around with Chris Smylie, Motu Matu'u and James Marshall before being served breakfast.

Meanwhile, others in the squad visited 12 Masterton and Carterton day cares and retirement homes. Twins at the Masterton Christian Centre had an extra special fifth birthday as Andre Taylor, Blade Thomson and Callum Gibbins delivered their cakes to them.

The Wairarapa Bush under-14 and under-16 reps had an exclusive training at which Hurricanes gave one-on-one technical advice and ran group skill sessions.

Acting Wairarapa-Bush RFU chief executive Debby Castles said the Canes made an impact:

"Everybody has been talking about the Hurricanes coming to town. Now you won't wipe the smiles off those kids' faces."

Team captain Conrad Smith said it was fantastic for his players to be able to get out and work within the local community. "Seeing how much of a buzz the kids got from the experience is really cool for our team."

For Smith, Saturday's game was his first at Mangatainoka as a player and after a 25-21 loss he said he was pleased with his first serious run of the season.

Coach Mark Hammett was upbeat about their second-half effort when they came back from a 22-27 deficit against the Chiefs to make it a close finish.

The match attracted about 8000 fans and was kick-started by Sir Colin Meads with help from Hilton McCullough, 5, of Wellington. Hilton, who is being treated for leukaemia, is a New Zealand Child Cancer ambassador.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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