After previewing the first of the teams beginning with H, I now concentrate on the highly rated Hurricanes, could they claim the Super 15 title this season…
In 2010 considering the Hurricanes had a very decent side, they wasn’t able to match up to their ability, after the side from New Zealand finished in 8th place. Mark Hammett takes charge of the Hurricanes this season after being involved at the Crusaders, considering he is only 38 years of age he has a lot of experience in management being the first forwards coach and assistant coach at the Crusaders, I would say the Hurricanes fans should be excited by this appointment.
Hammett though does have to deal with some key departures from the side, Scott Waldrom, Willie Ripia, Tamati Ellison and David Smith have all left the club, while scrum-half Chris Eaton joins the set-up as an extra head as highly rated Piri Weepu is out injured, also young winger Julian Savea joins the Hurricanes, the highly rated 20 year old has been compared to All Black legend Jonah Lomu. Some exciting young talent has joined the club for the 2011 season, as the side from Wellington look to have a very impressive year under their new coach.
At Hooker Andrew Hore will be playing a vital part as the new captain, his line out throwing needs to be worked on but he certainly has the experience on the field to a lead a team like the Hurricanes from the front. In the back row the Hurricanes have two top players in Victor Vito and Rodney So’oialo, at Number 8 the Hurricanes old timer will be one of the main sources in the side, but its youngster Victor Vito who will be the key player for Hammett’s side. Vito is a player who always plays to the best of his ability, as the Hurricanes will be hoping he’s form last season wasn’t a one off, already capped by the All Blacks we can safely say that Vito is one for the future, his solid defence and pace with the ball in his hand is only some of his top attributes.
In the backs the Hurricanes could be ever so dangerous, young Aaron Cruden will be handed the kicking duties again this season, but the 22 year old needs to perform on a regular basis, or another youngster in Daniel Kirkpatrick will be hotly on his heels. It’s at centre though where the 2006 finalists are most deadly, Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith are two of the best centre’s in World Rugby and a partnership with these two could be so good to watch. Nonu has sheer power going forward and can bulldoze his way through any defence in a blink of a eye, while Conrad Smith at 29 still possess some brilliant attacking rugby and solid defence.
The Hurricanes on paper are so good in the backs they could be the surprise package of this year’s Super 15, and I haven’t even mentioned Hosea Gear and Cory Jane yet. Gear has been banging home the tries for his national side in recent months, and going into the 2011 campaign the 26 year old is full of confidence. Cory Jane is one of the best full-backs in Rugby today, he can also play on the wing where his blistering pace comes into play, the Hurricanes also have another option in the young Julian Savea a very impressive replacement for the now departed Tamati Ellison.
After all that on the key players, maybe you can figure out why I have the Hurricanes down as one of my tips for Super 15 glory. They are a very impressive side and in the backs they could destroy most teams, in the forwards however they could well struggle to keep out tries, if Vito and So’oialo combine well and the All Blacks fringe pair of Eaton and Evans at second row perform to their high standards, they could well be the surprise package in the New Zealand conference; and I wouldn’t bet against them making the top six of the overall standings.