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Hurricanes

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Clark Laidlaw

STAYING ON: Clark Laidlaw will join the Hurricanes coaching staff in a fulltime role in 2015

Clark Laidlaw helped shore up the Hurricanes’ defence this season and he’ll get a chance to further improve the side under new coach Chris Boyd.

Laidlaw will join Boyd and his assistant John Plumtree in the third official appointment to the 2015 coaching staff.

The former Scottish Commonwealth Games sevens representative came to the Hurricanes via Taranaki in 2013 as an in-season skills coach before taking up the task of fixing the leaky defensive line this season.

Laidlaw had immediate success with the Hurricanes keeping their try line intact on two occasions, something they hadn’t managed over the opening three years of head coach Mark Hammett’s tenure, and also conceding fewer points per match than in the previous season.

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New Zealand Conference
For those who might have watched the episode of Boots & All on Thursday 17 July, you might have heard John Mitchell refer to an article he read surrounding the New Zealand teams and conference.

Rugby-Talk exclusively brings you the article in question, and we must agree with John, it does make for some interesting reading.

Just how level are the current playing fields in Super Rugby, if all sides don’t face the same opposition, and what are the possible consequences thereof on the final standings?

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Mark Hammett

Embattled Hurricane coach, Mark Hammett

As he prepares to leave the Hurricanes, coach Mark Hammett gave a parting shot by claiming that the Hurricanes were in a state of disarray when he took over the coaching reins ahead of the 2011 season.

Hammett, who is heading overseas to coach Welsh club Cardiff, is in the final stages of his four-year tenure with the Hurricanes after they were left in seventh place, one point outside of the playoffs, following the final round of Super Rugby.

Seventh was the best finish Hammett led the side to during his time in charge but his first season was a rescue mission as he moved on some senior players, including Andrew Hore and Ma’a Nonu as Hammett deemed they weren’t helpful for the team environment.

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Special EditionSuper RugbyLike every fine season of Super Rugby, all is not revealed until the final weekend of the regular season, and the 2014 campaign, and 19th tournament overall of the Southern Hemisphere’s premier provincial competition, will be no different.

However congratulations must be offered to the Waratahs, who offered one piece of clarity over the weekend with their 44-16 win over the Highlanders.

With that, the Waratahs has for the first time qualified as the top-ranked team after the regular season, and become the ninth franchise in history to finish as ‘minor premiers’.

For coach Michael Cheika and his troops, this will be a significant fact even though he was quick to remind all who would listen that the Super Rugby Finals Series would be another step up for a team that looks the goods.

However, as Cheika correctly pointed out, there will be teams with more experience at this stage of the season and this is a crucial factor for potential champions.

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Beauden Barrett will remain at the Hurricanes

Beauden Barrett will remain at the Hurricanes

All Black flyhalf Beauden Barrett has ended speculation surrounding his playing future by signing with the Hurricanes for the next two years.

The 23-year-old from coastal Taranaki had been linked with a move to the Blues but said he had enjoyed the supportive environment at the Hurricanes, and looked forward to working with the new coaching staff next year.

“We have a relatively young team here, and I really enjoy the role I play within the squad – it’s been great for my overall rugby development.”

“While some of our results this year have been a bit up and down, I feel as a team we have improved in what has been a really tight competition, and hopefully we have some luck this weekend so we are still in with a chance of making the playoffs.”

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HurricanesAn injury crisis at hooker means Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett was unable to finalise his team for their crunch encounter with the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday.

The men in black and yellow will be doing all they can to claim victory at the Waikato Stadium, as it will be the last round-robin match of the Super Rugby season for the fifth-placed franchise.

Who occupies the No.2 jersey remains to be seen – with team management continuing to monitor the injuries of Dane Coles, Ash Dixon and Motu Matu’u throughout the remainder of the week.

Injuries to Alapati Leiua and Victor Vito in last Saturday’s bruising win over the Crusaders means they have made way for Hadleigh Parkes to start at inside centre, while Brad Shields moves to the back of the scrum.

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Beauden Barrett

Beauden Barrett

All Black Beauden Barrett may be in the market, but he is definitely not on the Blues’ wishlist.

Barrett revealed that he is likely to resolves the issues around his future next week, when the Hurricanes have a bye.

However, he should be expecting a call from Blues coach John Kirwan, who said he would be looking internally for a flyhalf.

It followed speculation the Hurricanes playmaker, Barrett, could be moving to Auckland.

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Dane Coles

Dane Coles

Victor Vito

Victor Vito

Alapati Leiua

Alapati Leiua

Motu Matu'u

Motu Matu’u

The Hurricanes will continue to sweat on their long list of injured players, with just two rounds of Super Rugby league action remaining.

Their 16-9 Round 17 win over the Crusaders at the weekend took a heavy toll.

All Black hooker Dane Coles heads a casualty list that includes fellow All Black Victor Vito, Alapati Leiua and Motu Matu’u.

All four players are have scans on their respective injuries on Monday.

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CrusadersHurricanesHighlandersChiefsBluesThere is just six competition points separating the five New Zealand Conference teams, but with four intense local derbies to come, there is no chance of the Kiwi teams dominating the 2014 Super Rugby Finals Series.

The Crusaders and Highlanders destinies are in their own hands, although in a delicious twist of fate those two meet in the final round so that clash could be for a top six berth.

The Hurricanes, just one point behind, do not have their fate completely in their own hands, one of just two teams with only one fixture remaining.

The Blues and Chiefs need results to go their way if they are to survive.

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HurricanesThe two leading attacking teams of the 2014 Super Rugby season, the Hurricanes and Crusaders are facing off this weekend in what is expected to be a super-charged match at Westpac Stadium.

Statistics suggest a close encounter is on the cards, with both teams averaging 29 points per game. The Hurricanes have managed to score 407 points in 14 matches, while the Crusaders have generated 381 points in 13 fixtures.

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Hurricanes

Jason Woodward

Jason Woodward

Jason Woodward will leave the Rebels at season’s end after agreeing terms on a two-year deal to return home and represent the Hurricanes.

Woodward will return to New Zealand, where he will attempt to fulfil his childhood ambition and represent his country as an All Black.

Woodward said although he would be leaving Melbourne with a heavy heart, returning home to be part of the Hurricanes club was an offer he couldn’t turn down.

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John Plumtree & Chris Boyd

John Plumtree & Chris Boyd

Chris Boyd and John Plumtree will reunite as Super Rugby coaches in 2015 – this time on home soil.

The pair, who coached the Durban-based Sharks together in 2009 and 2010, have today been announced as the new coaching duo to lead the Hurricanes into next year’s campaign.

Current Wellington Lions coach, Boyd, will take up the head coach role, with Plumtree as his assistant.

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Riki Flutey

Riki Flutey

Former British and Irish Lions and England back Riki Flutey hopes to make a comeback in Super Rugby next year, after signing a one year contract with the Wellington Lions.

Thirty-four-year-old Flutey has signed the one year contract with the Wellington Lions with the goal of securing a Hurricanes Super Rugby contract in 2015.

Flutey has spent the last two years playing in Japan after returning from England where he played for London Wasps and he now wants to play local rugby in new Zealand again.

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Special EditionSuper RugbyThe Cell C Sharks returned from their Australasian tour at the top of the Vodacom Super Rugby Log while the Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers continued their good home form this weekend.

The Durbanites beat the Blues for the 10th consecutive time, by 29-23, in Albany on Friday morning. They won 3 from 4 on tour Down Under, which is equal to their best tour ever in 2009, and bagged 13 Log points in Australasia, firming their grip of the top spot on the standings after 4 tough games abroad.

Later on Friday, the Vodacom Bulls were at their brutal best as they probably recorded their best win of the season when they dismantled the 2013 runners up, the Brumbies, by 44-23 at Loftus Versfeld. The score probably flattered the visitors as the side from Pretoria remained unbeaten at home this season.

On Saturday morning in Perth, the Lions fought very hard to win their final tour match, but ultimately came up short as they were beaten by 29-19 by the Force.

Round 15 came to an exciting end in Cape Town on Saturday evening when the DHL Stormers beat the Toyota Cheetahs by 33-0 in a rather one-sided match.

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New Zealand Super Rugby Franchise Jerseys with child names

New Zealand Super Rugby Franchise Jerseys with child names

The jerseys of the five New Zealand Super Rugby teams will look slightly different this weekend.

All of the jerseys being worn by the five New Zealand-based Super Rugby squads have been customised for Round 15 with the name of a different child.

It was done as part of a charity initiative run by the BNZ in aid of Plunket – New Zealand’s largest provider of support services for the development, health and well-being of children under the age of 5.

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Special EditionSuper RugbyThe lowest mark for a Super Rugby Finals Series qualifier over recent years has been 53, meaning that this season one can mathematically assume in 2014 at least 45 points gives a team a chance of playing knockout rugby.

Remember 8 less points are on offer in 2014 with nothing awarded for a bye.

The Melbourne Rebels are now out of calculations, for while a potentially brilliant perfect 25 from 25 points in their closing run covers the rudimentary maths, they would need to rely on a perfect maelstrom of losing chaos at the top of the table.

The Blues, although 1oth and in a precarious position on the Log, have 5 games left, but from hereon in it is crunch time for them. They almost need a flawless run from here and a loss to the Sharks, will certainly put them out of the running on the weekend.

For the Vodacom Bulls, it becomes doubly difficult now, they only have 4 games left, compared to 5 by most of the teams above them in the pecking order. One more loss, and you can write them off. They need a near perfect run in their 4 games, earning at least 17 Log points from 4 games, so that means at least one bonus point try win and the rest all wins.

Evaluation in reverse order:

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Tim & Kyly BatemanHurricanesTim Bateman has announced he will head to Japan at the end of the Super Rugby season to take up a two-year deal with the West Red Sparks.

Bateman’s decision to leave New Zealand has nothing to do with rugby and everything to do with family.

Sadly, Bateman’s second stint in the Fukuoka region, is because his wife Laura was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last year.

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HurricanesHurricanes coach Mark Hammett has given his forward pack a slight reshuffle as the Hurricanes take on the Rebels at AAMI Park on Friday evening.

One of the changes comes in the front row, where Reggie Goodes slots into loosehead prop for Ben Franks, who moves to tighthead in place of Jeffery Toomaga-Allen. Ardie Savea also comes into the line-up, with Jack Lam moving to the bench.

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Special EditionHurricanesHighlandersCrusadersChiefsBluesThis is the first of a 3-part Series looking at each team’s chances with each Conference with little more than a third of the regular season remaining.

We kick off with the New Zealand Conference!

SUMMARY: The closest conference so far, there is only 5 Competition Log Points separating the teams and of all the countries, the amount of local derbies will ensure significant cannibalisation.

There are 11 New Zealand derby matches remaining in the last 7 rounds.

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Super RugbyThe Toyota Cheetahs delivered their best performance of the Vodacom Super Rugby season when they won comfortably against the DHL Stormers in an exciting local derby, but the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks were kept try-less as they ended up on the losing side in Round 11.

The team from Central South Africa and the Capetonians were involved in an thrilling derby where the most tries were scored this season. The Toyota Cheetahs won this encounter in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon by 35-22, outscoring the visitors by five tries to three.

It was the most tries scored against the DHL Stormers in a local derby since the Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls put five and seven respectively past them in 2007.

Earlier on Saturday, the Vodacom Bulls had to battle the elements and Sias Ebersohn’s boot in Perth. The Force beat the visitors from Pretoria by 15-9 in a kick-fest where no tries were scored.

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Alapati LeiuaHurricanesAlapati Leiua has decided to swap the gold of the Hurricanes for the gold of the Wasps as another high profile player exits the southern hemisphere.

Leiua, a Samoan international who can play centre and wing, has been a standout for the Wellington side in this years Super Rugby campaign.

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HurricanesRedsHurricanes (10) 35 / 21 (14) Reds (Final Score)

The Hurricanes and Reds did battle in Super Rugby at

Westpac Stadium, Wellington at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1, SHD & CSN on TV in SA.

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HurricanesThe Hurricanes and the Reds will have the Anzac legacy at the forefront of their minds when they take the field this weekend.

Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith will lead his team out wearing a limited edition, poppy-embroidered jersey, which will be auctioned off to raise funds for the Returned Services Association.

Smith said playing the match on Anzac weekend was a huge honour and he was proud to represent the Hurricanes club on such an important day.

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