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Aisle be Back: Hurricanes v Highlanders

Try-scoring contortionist Salesi Rayasi plays his 50th match for the Hurricanes tomorrow.

  • By Kevin McCarthy 

I won’t say I told you so, but  I told you so. Having banged  on early in the season about the crucial nature of bonus points won and squandered, the race for the playoffs home advantage will come down to bonus points.

Assuming neither the Blues nor the Canes lost their home turf  final matches – the most logical outcomes – then it will be whether one can score the bonus point.

If either lose, they also won’t want to do so by more than 7 – because the Brumbies are breathing down their respective collars.

The Canes certainly don’t want to be  revisiting Canberra at semi or finals stage.

For the Hurricanes none of this would be possible without the team maximising its BPs through the season, something they have largely done -even knicking one or two at the death when they probably shouldn’t have,

That’s why BPs won  and lost are really the Butterfly Effect factor in the season. Pivot either way and the outcomes later can compound significantly.

At the other end, the Crusaders sit with the same number of  BPs as the Hurricanes, for the unenviable reason  that they have had some close losses.  Like a lot.

Yet they also can thank that BP situation for having one last lifeline heading into this round.

Thrashing Moana Pasifika tonight isn’t essential – or necessarily a given – after all, a simple win at home for Fiji Drua will end the Crusaders season.

So, all eyes in Christchurch turn to the Rebels. In short, they’re pinning their hopes on a side that this week was officially euthanised by Super Rugby as financially broke beyond repair.

Not how they probably thought the season might resolve itself.


What a fillip to have Asafo Aumua back. I bet very few of you saw that coming, although apparently it was the target date for recovery from that nasty-looking knee injury of six weeks ago.

Hopefully, the diligent rehab will pay off; indeed, unless it is essential, perhaps he could just throttle steadily back into his work rather than going full throttle.

Which is to say, yeah right.


The great rugby governance stoush continued yesterday with that most terrible of outcomes. People voted; some people lost.

Earlier, some of the people who lost who got wind of the winds said that they would walk away if they lost.  That extended to those who say they speak on behalf of the players.

There was even some talk of Civil War, with the professional wing somehow removing itself from the existing ecosystem.

Of course, all wars are violent by definition, but a Civil War is particularly nasty – nothing gets people going like settling old scores close to home.  The after-effects are generational.

Let’s hope that is rhetoric. If rugby powerbrokers think they can fight interminable turf wars, and it have no effect on  the remaining grassroots support for the game, then they are mistaken.

And without that support, whoever wins might fight themselves running four-fifths of not very much. That’s what a Civil War looks like.


In team news, Asafo Aumua (as noted above) and James Tucker return to the run-on side. After missing the Chiefs game with injury, Du’Plessis Kirifi comes in at seven, with Peter Lakai shifting to the bench.

In his 50th game for the Hurricanes, Salesi Rayasi starts on the left wing with the rest of the backline unchanged from the Chiefs match.

On the bench, Tevita Mafileo is set for his 50thSuper Rugby match, having played seven for the Chiefs prior to joining the Hurricanes. James O’Reilly and Pouri Rakete-Stones round out the front row.

Jordi Viljoen will be in the 21 jersey, with Riley Higgins and Bailyn Sullivan rounding out the bench.

The Hurricanes team take on the Highlanders at Sky Stadium, Saturday 1 June 4:35pm

  1. Xavier Numia
    2. Asafo Aumua
    3. Pasilio Tosi
    4. James Tucker
    5. Isaia Walker-Leawere
    6. Devan Flanders
    7. Du’Plessis Kirifi
    8. Brayden Iose
    9. TJ Perenara
    10. Brett Cameron
    11. Salesi Rayasi (50th Hurricanes Match)
    12. Jordie Barrett
    13. Billy Proctor
    14. Josh Moorby
    15. Ruben Love

16. James O’Reilly
17. Pouri Rakete-Stones
18. Tevita Mafileo (50th Super Rugby Match)
19. Justin Sangster
20. Peter Lakai
21. Jordi Viljoen
22. Riley Higgins
23. Bailyn Sullivan

Unavailable: Cam Roigard, Tyrel Lomax, Caleb Delany, Brad Shields

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