- By Kevin McCarthy
There were two draws last weekend, and while neither involved the Canes, its our fans who should be feeling like they just had to kiss their cousin.
The Crusaders were so close to going down to defeat on Friday, yet bizarrely walked away with three points from a draw because the Sharks could manage only penalty goals.
Not something the Hurricanes could control of course, but there was the tantalizing prospect of the conference (and yes, over all competition) race closing up to within one false step. As in the Crusaders being on 40 log points if they’d lost, and potentially the Hurricanes (by the next day) being on 37 log points with a bonus point.
Of course you always need to put potentially in the Canes descriptions; it’s basically the club back-up motto, after Expect the Unexpected.
So having roared out to 26-0 on Saturday against the Rebels posing as the Rabble at halftime, potentially, there was a bonus point for the taking. Well okay you know what happened next, and potentially, we could have lost.
Instead we’re in the territory of well, hey, we won again and that’s all that counts. Hey we’re playing at 60 or 70 per cent and still winning. S’all Good Man.
But don’t you buy that. There will be few to zero chances to upset the Crusaders march to top spot, and the Hurricanes need to start turning up some heat.
Because for all their apparent born to rule dominance, there could yet be a twist or two – and will the Canes be anywhere close enough to benefit?
Just remember that the year we won the title, it was the last round of miracle results that gave us home advantage. Built on a crushing of the Crusaders on their home turf, that kicked open the door.
I may be biased. Well, I am biased.
But I still have an irked suspicion that a Hurricanes player in a red and black jersey would get a much bigger hype reel than if he wears the yellow and black (and can we stop playing in black and yellow, please!).
This isn’t dissing the Sevu Reece’s and George Bridge’s and etc etc of the world.
Yet when someone with a hot streak like Wes Goosen – who incidentally has been flying under the radar for a couple of seasons – starts getting a mention, it’s often in terms of why he still wouldn’t catch the eyes of the All Black selectors. Those reasons may be valid, but I don’t hear it about some other rising stars.
Ngani Laumape is the case in point. The guy’s the new Nonu, yet we hanker for the old Nonu. We find reasons why he doesn’t have the “complete” game – probably because he actually gets on the park, compared to some rivals. Nonu didn’t have the “complete” game either, until well, the last couple of years at test level.
As for bolters for the RWC, it seems that a couple of stellar showings or even one, can get your name in lights. Bolters are nice, they’re great stories. But they don’t win you World Cups in the end.
Okay, no complacency please about the Blues. They’ve stalled, but they are back on their home turf.
This is not the time to let them regain some mojo. After all, we’ve got serious pretensions, and the Blues just have pretensions.
And Nonu of course. How mouthwatering will it be to see the old fullah against Ngani Laumape.
Always reassuring to see TJ back though – he’s worth at least one try on his own and much more.
One things for sure. It ain’t going to be a penalty fest.
The Hurricanes squad to face the Blues is:
15 Jordie Barrett
14 Wes Goosen
13 Matt Proctor
12 Ngani Laumape
11 Ben Lam
10 Beauden Barrett
9 TJ Perenara (c)
8 Reed Prinsep
7 Ardie Savea
6 Vaea Fifita
5 Isaia Walker-Leawere
4 James Blackwell
3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen
2 Asafo Aumua
1 Toby Smith
16 Ricky Riccitelli
17 Fraser Armstrong
18 Ross Geldenhuys
19 Kane Le’aupepe
20 Du’Plessis Kirifi
21 Finlay Christie
22 James Marshall
23 Chase Tiatia