- By Kevin McCarthy
I shouldn’t but sometimes I can’t help sweating over the small stuff.
The Hurricanes somewhat predictably as they hit the business end, are in a bit of a life or death clash with the Blues this weekend. Life or death in the sense that the winner will probably lock in a home quarterfinal, with outside hopes of a home semi should the frontrunners stumble.
The loser can be sure of hitting the road in the quarterfinals and beyond if they survive.
The Blues, courtesy of a single bonus point, sit one above the Canes, with otherwise a near identical record.
The small stuff is that it was way back in round three, that the Hurricanes lost 25-19 to the Blues in Wellington. It was a game notable for little, with both sides turning in a pretty dire first 40. The Blues however toughed out a win despite being under siege for what seemed forever in the last minutes.
I said at the time that if Ardie Savea had been on the field, the Canes surely would have found a way. Of course, he wasn’t, sitting out a game after his inexplicable throat slitting gesture in an earlier round saw him cited.
No Ardie, no win, and possibly no top four spot. It’s grossly unfair of course to pin it all on that hypothetical. Still, things have consequences.
Best way to consign it to irrelevancy is a storming final two games from the Canes. Now or never, as they say. Otherwise, we’ll rapidly be into hail mary territory when finals footie begins.
How’s that retirement working out for Wayne Smith?
The saviour of the women’s rugby world cup odyssey last year now has been appointed today (Friday) as high performance coach across both the women’s and men’s code.
Allegedly he was going to ride off into the sunset after last year, so I imagine the NZR has done some serious arm twisting to keep him on board.
I am not quite sure what his role will be – it is not as a super coach. So presumably it’s as a super mentor. Sort of like Yoda someone who Scott Robertson for example might seek out on a lonely windswept mountainside between breakdance sessions.
On the other hand, it could be much more hands-on. You could find any number of potential pitfalls with this structure, but given its Wayne Smith, it’s hard to see them actually bearing bitter fruit.
So, kudos to NZR that they haven’t let the Professor go out to pasture. He’s the brand ambassador for smart, attractive, attacking rugby, and the sworn enemy of the rolling maul.
All things we should be able to agree on as being good things.
Hurricanes named to take on the Blues:
1 Xavier Numia
2 Asafo Aumua
3 Tyrel Lomax
4 James Blackwell
5 Isaia Walker-Leawere
6 Caleb Delany
7 Du’Plessis Kirifi
8 Ardie Savea ©
9 Cam Roigard
10 Aidan Morgan
11 Kini Naholo
12 Jordie Barrett
13 Billy Proctor
14 Julian Savea
15 Josh Moorby
16. Hame Faiva
17. Tevita Mafileo
18. Owen Franks
19. Justin Sangster
20. Brayden Iose
21. Jamie Booth
22. Brett Cameron
23. Salesi Rayasi
Unavailable for selection: Ruben Love, Tyler Laubscher, Reed Prinsep, TJ Perenara, Bailyn Sullivan, Dane Coles, Devan Flanders.
Unavailable due to New Zealand under-20s commitments: Siale Lauaki, Peter Lakai, Cooper Flanders, Jordi Viljoen, Hunter Morrison, Harry Godfrey.