Competition for places strong in Hurricanes squad
Hurricanes coach Jason Holland is buoyed heading into the DHL Super Rugby Pacific season, with his squad showing the benefits of a more extended pre-season than usual and the competition for starting places across his team.
Those players will have a final chance to push their claims against the Crusaders in their pre-season game in Levin on Friday.
Holland said they would give Ruben Love time for his groin injury to recover fully so it didn't linger during the season, and he had all the strength he needed before playing.
With only a week until the start of the season, he said it had been a longer pre-season than usual which was good, but the players were ready to get into the competition.
Jordie Barrett's role at second five-eighths was part of his continuing growth, which could be applied wherever he played.
"There have been things he's worked hard at over the last couple of years, whether at fullback around decision-making stuff, and that's no different at second five-eighths where there are things he'll be thinking around a little more than when he was at fullback.
"Whether that's around what he does in carry to be dominant, how he defends, those sort of little things where you are always going to get better the more and more you do it. He's lucky, everything comes pretty natural to him so if he puts his mind to it he will get improvements pretty quick," he said.
Welcome to your Super Rugby Pacific 🏉— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) February 12, 2023
Season kicks off February 24th 📅 pic.twitter.com/jbniegMUTP
Holland said his newcomers who made an impression during their first season with the side last year, fullback Josh Moorby, loose forward TK Howden, and lock Jason Sangster, were looking more comfortable in the team environment.
"All three of those guys were pretty shy when they first came in, but they are not shy now.
"Their growth has been massive and they've all had good pre-seasons, and all of our squad have. They're all flying. We've got some competition among the locks and loosies at the moment. Everyone is fit, or coming back to fitness, and we've got massive competition in that space."
Among the loose forwards, Peter Lakai will be attempting to force his way into consideration.
"He's a special young fellow. He had an awesome NPC. He's been here for three or four years in our environment, so we want him to compete.
"He's ready to play Super Rugby, there's no doubt about that. We've got a lot of loosies who are ready so I just want him to compete and see how he goes."
He wasn't a player who needed management during the year to be ready to play later, and Holland intended for him to be competing for playing.
A run of titles 🏆— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) February 8, 2023
Does @crusadersrugby's dominant run come to an end? 🧐
Who takes the #SuperRugbyPacific title for season 2023? pic.twitter.com/CKlCsU6Enl