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Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi

Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi

The Hurricanes have added another scrumhalf to their roster for 2016, signing promising talent Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi.

The Rotorua-born 20-year-old has been playing his rugby in Taranaki for the past 2 seasons, and has had a successful year in 2015 as part of both the New Zealand Under 20 World Championship-winning side, followed by selection in the New Zealand Barbarians team.

He was also a major player in his Taranaki club rugby side’s winning season, with his form for New Plymouth Old Boys’ helping to secure him an ITM Cup contract with Taranaki for 2015.

Tahuriorangi described the move to the Hurricanes as a massive opportunity, not only for himself, but his family.

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Pita Ahki

Pita Ahki

Elusive back Pita Ahki will be 1 player to fill the Hurricanes’ midfield following the departure of Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu and Rey Lee-Lo.

Nonu has signed for French giants Toulon while centre partner Smith has joined Pau, who have been promoted to the French Top 14 next season.

Capable to play at No 12 or No 13, Ahki has signed a 2-year deal with the club, having been with the Blues since 2013.

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Otere Black

Otere Black

The Hurricanes have put the Super Rugby Final behind them and started to build for 2016 by announcing the re-signing of talented New Zealand Under 20 and Maori All Black flyhalf, Otere Black.

The 20-year-old Manawatu Turbo was part of the club’s wider training group this year and ended up playing 4 matches in his 1st season, scoring 17 points.

Despite fielding significant interest from at least 3 other New Zealand Super Rugby teams, Black said it was at the Hurricanes where he wanted to continue developing his game.

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Super RugbyIt is the Final of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

The long awaited game to determine the champions of 2015 is finally upon us!

Of course, the South African and Australian Franchises are already done and dusted and only 2 New Zealand sides remain in the race, the all season Log leading Hurricanes and the New Zealand Cinderella side, the Highlanders.

The Final takes place in Wellington, New Zealand at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT), at Westpac Stadium.

The Hurricanes are firm favourites for the game, having had by far the best overall performance of all 15 Super Rugby franchises in Super Rugby 2015, and running away with the Combined Log. They certainly played entertaining rugby and a lot of it has to be attributed to their forwards finally stepping up to the plate to match their tremendous backline.

Their defensive structures were much improved and their dangerous backline fired.. if one did not know any better one would swear that every last player was on some serious performance enhancing drugs.

I’ve always said that the Hurricanes were always underperforming in relation to the team they have on paper, but in 2015 all the elements finally came together to make them a fabulous side.

Whatever happens in the final, they deserve plaudits for the season of 2015!

The Highlanders on the other side, turned a lot of seemingly no-name forwards into a monster pack and their backline players turned into a dangerous unit with All Blacks written all over every member.

The Highlanders have lost twice to the Hurricanes already in 2015 but last weekend in the semi-final against the Waratahs they showed that they have progressed upwards a number of rungs in the 2015 season and specifically in the last few weekends.

The Highlanders, having almost always been considered New zealand’s step-child Super Rugby side, have had a real Cinderella season and deserve to be in the final and one is almost unwillingly tempted to urge them on for all the honours in the Final.

As a totally neutral observer, all I can say is that I enjoyed the rugby these two teams dished up for us all in 2015… and may the best team win!

Let the Final roll on… no guts, no glory!

Enjoy it with me, folks.

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Super Rugby finalists' NAME PLATES, which one will be engraved?

Super Rugby finalists’ NAME PLATES, which one will be engraved?

 

After 124 games spread across 18 Rounds and a fortnight of finals, we stand at the cusp of crowning a 1st-time Super Rugby champion.

We run the rule over both teams – examine their strengths, potntial weaknesses and try to decipher where the game will be won.

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HurricanesChris Boyd has announced his side to battle the Highlanders for the Super Rugby title but is still sweating on Ardie Savea who is yet to prove his fitness.

Meanwhile, Saturday night’s finale will quietly take on an extra meaning for a few of the men in black and yellow.

For long-serving Hurricanes Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu and Jeremy Thrush, and fellow teammates Chris Smylie, Rey Lee-Lo and Ben Franks, it will be the last time they run onto Westpac Stadium as Hurricanes.

With 468 caps between them, the 6 players will leave a sizeable hole at the Hurricanes when they depart at the end of the season, but not before they do their best to help lift a Super Rugby trophy for their club.

Boyd has named a similar line-up to help those 6 guys do the job, with the only change coming at reserve hooker where Motu Matu’u returns from a knee injury.

Savea’s knee will continue to be monitored throughout the remainder of the week, with Callum Gibbins bracketed as cover should Savea not be deemed fit.

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Chris Boyd

Chris Boyd

Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd said he is taking nothing from his team’s 2 wins over the Highlanders this season ahead of their Final with same opponents on Saturday.

The Hurricanes won their Round 6 encounter 20 / 13 in Dunedin and then in dominant fashion thrashed the Highlanders side 56 / 20 in the return fixture in Round 17 in Napier. However, the latter win was against a considerably weaker Highlanders outfit than the one that they will be facing this Saturday.

“If you remember the last game in Napier they rested their 3 All Blacks (Aaron Smith, Ben Smith and Malakai Fekitoa),” Boyd said.

“Patrick Osborne and Nasi Manu also did not play. It was 5 key players for them – so we will take absolutely no energy from that performance at all.”

Conditions for Saturday’s Final is expected to be wet, which might nullify the attacking threats of both teams who are the competition’s leading try scorers. Boyd, on the other hand, feels that there will be running rugby regardless of the conditions.

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HurricanesThis week’s Super Rugby news is of course dominated by the only 2 sides left in the 2015 competition, who will meet in the Final on Saturday, namely the Highlanders and Hurricanes.

In this article we focus on various aspects in the final week for the Hurricanes. We look at how they will approach the final, Conrad Smith discusses his 12-year Hurricanes career and we look at the Hurricane sinjury situation ahead of Saturday’s final.

 

Game Approch – Keep attacking:

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd says that his team will not change their attacking approach when they host their first Super Rugby Final.

The Wellington side will host the Highlanders on the weekend which means that Super Rugby will have a 1st-time titleholder, and for the 5th time it will be an all-New Zealand affair.

The table-topping Hurricanes sealed their home final with a 29 / 9 victory over the Brumbies, while the Highlanders travelled to Sydney and beat the defending champion Waratahs to secure their spot.

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HurricanesThe Hurricanes have not stumbled upon a magic formula this season and their success is built on hard work put in over the last few years by a maturing playing group, according to their coach and captain.

The Hurricanes host Australia’s Brumbies in the Super Rugby semi-final at Wellington Regional Stadium on Saturday after finishing top of the standings.

It is the 1st semi-final the Wellington-based side have hosted since 2006, creating an expected sell out, and their 1st appearance in the playoffs since 2009.

“I don’t think there’s a silver bullet and there’s not one answer,” coach Chris Boyd said about their success.

“There are a whole lot of bits and pieces that has got the chemistry right.”

The progression of players such as new All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder from the wider training group and the experience gained through seasons of Super Rugby had also played a part, Boyd said.

Captain Conrad Smith, who will play his last game for the Hurricanes on Saturday if his side lose, felt the team’s success had been down to the work done over the last few years.

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Super RugbyIt is the Semi-Final Round of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

There are only 2 matches in the Round, 1 in New Zealand and 1 in Australia.

1St Place on the Combined Log, the Hurricanes hosts the lowest Qualifier, the Brumbies. In the other match 2nd on the Log, the Waratahs hosts the other qualifier from last weekend, the Highlanders.

The 2 Franchises who finished in the No 1 and No 2 spots on the Combined Log, the Hurricanes and Waratahs respectively, have had wonderful rest weekends, as they sat out during the Top 6 Qualification Round last weekend.

The action is kicked off by the Hurricanes vs Brumbies who do battle in Wellington at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT) on Saturday 27 June.

A little later, over in Sydney, Australia, the Waratahs plays the Highlanders at 11:55 SA Time (19:55 AEST, 21:55 NZ Time, 09:55 GMT).

After this Round only 2 Teams remain to contest the Final next weekend.

The Hurricanes vs Brumbies game should be an absolute cracker after the Brumbies’ massive win over the DHL Stormers last weekend, but one would have to give a nod to the most consistent team of this year’s series, the Hurricanes, who have stood out head and shoulders above all comers in 2015.

Both teams sport great backlines but I am of the opinion that the Hurricanes are punching at the weight they should always punch at in 2015, and I give the win to them, but not by a large margin.

As far as the other match is concerned, do we give home ground advantage enough weight to speculate that the Waratahs will overcome the staunch Highlanders in Sydney… even though their regular league season was not as brilliant as last season, OR do we say that the Highlander’s faerie tale will continue in 2015?

It is a difficult call to make and I’m leaning towards the Waratahs making it at home in Sydney!

Meanwhile 11Teams are already lounging around, no longer part of the race to the finish line.

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HurricanesThe Hurricanes will welcome back star flyhalf Beauden Barrett for their semi-final clash against the Brumbies on Saturday, but will be without the services of Cory Jane.

Jane failed to recover from a hamstring injury he suffered in his team’s 21 / 13 win over the Chiefs, with his place taken by Nehe Milner-Skudder, who moves from fullback to the right wing.

Milner-Skudder’s shift sees James Marshall move from flyhalf to the fullback position, with Barrett recovering from his niggle to take over the pivot position.

The Hurricanes will also be further boosted by the return of Ma’a Nonu who was rested for the Chiefs clash 2 weeks ago. He replaces Rey Lee-Lo, who drops down to the bench.

In the pack, new All Blacks squad member James Broadhurst returns to partner Jeremy Thrush, while explosive flank Ardie Savea also returns replacing Callum Gibbins.

The only other changes to the matchday squad is on the bench, which sees Blade Thomson and Matt Proctor both return from injury and will be on the bench. Scrumhalf Chris Smylie also returns to provide cover for TJ Perenara.

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Chris Boyd

Chris Boyd

Hurricanes’ coach Chris Boyd is backing his loose forward trio to step up in their crunch Super Rugby semifinal against the Brumbies on Saturday.

Boys feels Victor Vito and Ardie Savea’s Test aspirations will lift their game and believes Savea was very unlucky to miss out on All Black selection.

He is expecting a compelling response from the 21-year-old flank when he goes head-to-head with Wallaby openside David Pocock in Saturday’s showdown in Wellington.

Boyd believes his 21-year-old tearaway will be a solid replacement if All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, Sam Cane or Matt Todd should be struck down by injury.

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Beauden Barrett

Beauden Barrett

The Hurricanes will enter their derby against the Chiefs without the services of All Black flyhalf Beauden Barrett after the playmaker was ruled out with a calf strain.

Barrett’s absence sees James Marshall return to flyhalf after playing fullback in his team’s 56 / 20 victory over the Highlanders last week. Nehe Milner-Skudder moves from the wing to take Marshall’s place at the back.

Head coach Chris Boyd has also shuffled his forwards slightly, bringing Mark Abbott and Callum Gibbins into the starting line-up, along with Brad Shields who came off the bench last week.

Boyd has decided to let hardworking forwards James Broadhurst and Ardie Savea keep their jackets on a little while longer this week, with the pair having started 13 and 12 matches respectively, out of a possible 15.

Meanwhile, the clash will see another milestone for centre and captain Conrad Smith, who will join Ma’a Nonu as the most capped Hurricane when he leads his team onto Yarrow Stadium this weekend.

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Jerry Collins and his partner Alana tragically died in a car crash this morning... R.I.P.

Jerry Collins and his partner Alana tragically died in a car crash this morning… R.I.P.

Hurricanes and All Blacks legend Jerry Collins and his partner Alana Madill have tragically passed away following a car accident in France on Friday morning.

The duo were Beziers when their car was apparently struck by a bus.

The couple sadly passed away while their three-month-old daughter was taken to hospital in a critical condition.

Collins joined Wellington in 1999, earning 85 Super Rugby caps and first receiving a call-up to the All Blacks in 2001. He went on to play 48 Tests before retiring after the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

He subsequently joined French club Toulon and Ospreys in Wales before a stint in Japan.

He was 34 years of age.

Tributes have started flowing in from around the rugby world and a moment’s silence will be observed before kick-off between the Hurricanes and Highlanders in Napier on Friday evening.

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Reggie Goodes

Reggie Goodes

The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Robert Stelzner SC has accepted a guilty plea from Reggie Goodes of the Hurricanes for contravening 10.4 (h) Dangerous Charging, after he was cited following a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Goodes has been suspended from all forms of the game for 1 week up to and including Saturday 23 May 2015.

The incident occurred in the 36th minute of the Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and Chiefs at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on 16 May 2015.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Robert Stelzner SC assessed the case.

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Hurricanes vs ChiefsThe Hurricanes and Chiefs have both named their matchday sides for the exciting top of the Log derby between the 2 sides on Saturday.

On the Hurricanes side, the centre combination of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith will run out for their joint 50 game together as centre pairing and in addition prop Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen will run out for his 50th cap for the Hurricanes. On the Chiefs side, Sonny Bill Williams will have aspirations to counter and defeat the strong Canes midfield, in a bid to stake his All Blacks starting place for the World Cup and Hosea Gear is back on the right wing for the important clash. The Chiefs will also start with young Damian McKenzie at flyhalf.

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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

With the Cell C Sharks sitting in 11th position on the Combined Log, after suffering 7 losses, the only thing left to play for is pride, as the play-offs seem an almost impossible dream.

The Sharks were humiliated by the Highlanders in their 1st game of their Australasian tour, with even the most faithful of supporters conceding that the season is effectively over.

It seems that Sharks boss Gary Gold is in agreement, stating that they are now only playing for pride and to try and win back some disgruntled fans.

“The issue for us is that this is a matter of pride, of massive pride,” Gold said.

“We’ve let a lot of people down, we’ve let a lot of supporters down – the expectations were high for this team.

“I’m not about to provide any excuses for what happened in our performance, it was sub-standard and whatever the reasons are, we’ll investigate that.

“I take responsibility for it, I’ve said that before, but the bottom line is that we have to fix it.

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Beauden Barrett

Beauden Barrett

The Hurricanes have confirmed Beauden Barrett will sit out the next month of Super Rugby.

Barrett’s scans revealed a grade 2 tear of his medial collateral ligament (MCL) which he suffered during the Hurricanes’ match against the Crusaders on Saturday 2 May.

“Obviously I’m gutted with the injury, but fortunately it’s not season-ending for me,” said Barrett.

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Nehe Milner-Skudder

Nehe Milner-Skudder

Matt Proctor

Matt Proctor

The top-of-the-table Hurricanes have announced the re-signing of Nehe Milner-Skudder and Matt Proctor until at least the end of 2017.

Both Milner-Skudder, 24, and Proctor, 22, have proven themselves to be elusive members of the Hurricanes’ backline, and coach Chris Boyd said they would both be key figures in the team’s future.

“They’re both local products of the Hurricanes franchise, and it’s no secret that both of these guys are exciting talents.

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Super RugbyThe Vodacom Bulls are back at the Top of the South African Conference, taking over from the DHL Stormers who came up short in Bloemfontein on an exhilarating Saturday of Vodacom Super Rugby.

The weekend started on a disappointing note for the Cell C Sharks in Dunedin though. After a solid start for the visitors, the Highlanders turned on the heat and eventually beat the Durbanites by 48 / 15 in their opening tour match Down Under.

Saturday saw 2 cracking local derbies, both won by the home teams.

1st Up, the Toyota Cheetahs caused a minor upset when they won their 3rd successive home game against the DHL Stormers in Bloemfontein, by 25 / 17.

The home team outscored the visitors by 3 tries to 2 and thoroughly deserved their 4th win of the season. It was also only the 3rd time in 14 matches that the DHL Stormers could not score any Log Points against the Toyota Cheetahs.

The final match of the weekend was a proper humdinger in Pretoria, where the Vodacom Bulls beat their neighbours, the Emirates Lions, by 35 / 33. A total of 7 tries were scored as both sides went hammer and tongs against each other for the full 80 minutes.

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Beauden Barrett

Beauden Barrett

Hurricanes flyhalf Beauden Barrett will see a specialist to determine the extent of the knee injury he sustained against the Crusaders.

The All Black playmaker twisted his knee when he was squeezed between 2 Crusaders players in the Hurricanes’ thrilling 29 / 23 victory in Wellington on Saturday.

It was the Hurricanes’ 9th win out of 10 games this season, and leaves them 1 victory away from securing a play-off spot.

Coach Chris Boyd’s team face the struggling Cell C Sharks next, which may be a good opportunity to fulfill Barrett’s mandatory rest period even if he does recover in time to play.

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Super RugbyIt was a weekend of drama and excitement in South Africa as the DHL Stormers moved to the Top of the local Super Rugby Conference and the Emirates Lions kept alive their dream of reaching the Top 6.

The Emirates Lions beat the Toyota Cheetahs by 34 / 29 in an 8-try humdinger on Saturday afternoon to record their 6th victory of the season, making 2015 their 2nd best yet but with 6 Rounds to go.

Last year, the Emirates Lions finished with 7 wins, 2 better than their 5 from 2007, but they are on track to better their best in the coming weeks.

The Toyota Cheetahs also deserve a lot of credit for never giving up as they returned to Bloemfontein with 2 bonus points.

The 2nd local match on Saturday delivered heaps of drama and the result was in the balance right until the end, but the DHL Stormers hung on for their 2nd victory over the Vodacom Bulls this season as they won by 15 / 13.

The visitors from Pretoria scored the only try of the match when Bjorn Basson went over early in the 2nd half, but the match-clinching moment came at the death when Duane Vermeulen charged down an attempted drop-goal by Handré Pollard to lead his side to their 7th win of the season.

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James Broadhurst

James Broadhurst

James Broadhurst of the Hurricanes has been issued with a Citing Commissioner Warning for contravening Law 10.4 (g) Dangerous charging, during a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

The incident occurred in the 50th minute of the match between the Reds and Hurricanes played at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on 26 April 2015.

A Citing Commissioner Warning may be issued by the SANZAR Citing Commissioner for foul play incidents that are very close to, but in his opinion do not meet the red card threshold for citings.

Upon further review of the match footage the Citing Commissioner deemed a Citing Commissioner Warning was appropriate.

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James Marshall

James Marshall

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd won’t be resting any All Blacks ahead of his team’s clash with the Reds in Brisbane this Sunday.

Boyd has kept the line-up almost identical to that which faced the Waratahs last week, however, a calf injury to Nehe Milner-Skudder has left him out of selection contention, making way for James Marshall at fullback.

Matt Proctor also comes back into the starting line-up, with Cory Jane moving to the bench.

Victor Vito (calf), Dane Coles (elbow), and Blade Thomson (concussion), remain on the injury list.

Hurricanes’ flyhalf Beauden Barrett needs 2 points to surpass David Holwell’s record of 676, and become the team’s all-time leading point-scorer.

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Jason Woodward

Jason Woodward

After suffering their 1st defeat of the campaign, the Hurricanes have taken a 2nd blow as Jason Woodward’s season was prematurely ended by a broken ankle.

The outside back suffered the injury playing club rugby for Upper Hutt against Oriental Rongotai in Wellington over the weekend.

While the former Rebel has just 3 Super Rugby appearances to his name this year, his loss will be a blow to the depth of the Hurricanes’ formidable backline that has set the competition alight in the 1st half of the season.

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