With the 2019 Super Rugby season just a week away, the Hurricanes have bolstered their stocks well. The news that both Dane Coles boasting 60 test caps and captaining the side as well as Ngani Laumape having re-signed with both the Hurricanes and New Zealand Rugby up to and including the 2021 season, must be indicative of the strong culture they have brewing in this team.
These major signings have further bolstered the squad as in the last few weeks numerous members of the junior squad have also re-committed themselves to the club on a long term basis. The strong core group of players the ‘Canes currently have as well as the promising talents of their junior teams will stand them in good stead from a depth perspective going forward.
With news also having broken that Jeff To’omaga-Allen will be leaving the team at the conclusion of the 2019 season to link up with the Wasps. Head Coach John Plumtree will be glad that some of his more battled hardened customers have decided to continue post World Cup.
The last few weeks have seen all the teams from the competition undertaking various pre-season friendlies in a bid to sharpen their match fitness before the onset of a long season which will culminate in the World Cup. Although they are just friendlies, it has been good to see teams giving peripheral players an opportunity to put their hands up for a place in the squad.
Last weekend the Hurricanes faced off with the 9 time Super Rugby champions, the Crusaders. The match with a bloated bench of fresh legs did not fail to deliver in the typical style of New Zealand Rugby. The Hurricanes were the losing side on the day, going down 34-19 but with many of their star player’s being rested, not too much should be read into the score line.
This weekend they will be tackling the Blues in their last pre-season game and with all the hype surrounding Ma’a Nonu’s return to Auckland all eyes will be focused on the whether or not the Blues have the potential to be genuine title contenders this year.
With the new half back pairing of Finlay Christie and Fletcher Smith running out, you can be sure that the game will be played with a familiar intensity as the youngsters seek to step up for places in the squad when Beauden Barret and Aaron Smith are inevitably rested as part of the All Backs plans for the year.
Young and old, in a World Cup year there is everything to play for and whether its Nonu returning to New Zealand or Jeff To’omaga-Allen leaving, you can be sure that no stone will be left unturned in the search for Super Rugby glory.
Written by: Nicholas Halsey
Photo credit: NZTV Rugby