The Hurricanes are returning to Napier's McLean Park for a cracker of an assignment next year.

They will host the Sunwolves in a round-five Investec Super Rugby match on Saturday, February 29. It will be the first time the Sunwolves have played in Hawke's Bay and they are expected to include numerous players from Japan's World Cup squad, which has exceeded expectations during the past month.

While the Hurricanes didn't play in the Bay this year, more than 13,000 fans cheered them on in 2018 when then Magpies pivot Ihaia West kicked a last-play conversion to give the Canes a dramatic 38-37 win over the Sharks on a balmy night.

Hawke's Bay Rugby Union chief executive Jay Campbell was expecting next year's match to appeal to the fans in the province, especially with the family friendly kick-off time of 4.45pm.


"The Hurricanes have a strong history of success at McLean Park and it promises to be an open and entertaining match on a lovely late summer's afternoon," he said.

"The game will be of special significance for current Magpies including Gareth Evans, Ben May, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Danny Toala and Jonah Lowe who will want to add to the rich history of Hawke's Bay players making a big contribution to the Hurricanes."

Evans said it was always a treat to be with the Hurricanes in his home province.

"The boys who played against the Sharks last year know how much support we received and how welcoming everyone was. I'm sure it is going to be another special week in the Bay."

The match will represent the 12th time the Hurricanes have played a home match in Napier since they beat Transvaal 32-16 in 1996.

Hurricanes chief executive Avan Lee said taking matches to the regions remained a priority for the organisation and they had received a number of requests to host a match in 2020.

"We see all of our regional partners as playing an important part of our club and we will head to Napier with the confidence that we will receive plenty of support.

"We have a special relationship with the people of Hawke's Bay and we know the timing of the match will appeal to a lot of our fans there."


Napier City Council's event manager Kevin Murphy pointed out the match will be part of a double whammy for the Bay that weekend, with American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ben Harper and his band The Innocent Criminals performing at Church Road Winery on the Friday night.

"Originally that was going to be on the Saturday night but we managed to get the date changed so fans could take in both events if they wanted to," Murphy said.

"It's great that we can get Hurricanes games two years in three. With Japan doing so well at the World Cup and the bulk of that squad playing for the Sunwolves it should be an exciting game, and at that time of the year a fantastic summer festive occasion."

Hurricanes matches at McLean Park in Napier (Played: 11. Won: 8. Lost: 3):
1996 v Transvaal, WON 32-16; 1997 v Waratahs, WON 19-3; 1998 v Crusaders, LOST 17-39; 1999 v Waratahs, WON 13-7; 2001 v Highlanders, WON 35-33; 2003 v Bulls, LOST 34-46; 2011 v Bulls, LOST 14-26; 2014 v Bulls, WON 25-20; 2015 v Highlanders, WON 56-20; 2017 v Brumbies, WON 56-21; 2018 v Sharks, WON 38-37.