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Hurricanes brace for 'passionate' Fijian Drua

Hurricanes brace for 'passionate' Fijian Drua

All BlacksApril 18, 2024

Performing at their best against the sometimes unorthodox rugby played by the Fijian Drua will be the goal for the DHL Super Rugby Pacific-leading Hurricanes in Suva on Friday.

Coach Clark Laidlaw knows the fish hooks that could affect them in the unique Fijian atmosphere.

He said the coaches and management had been thinking about the Fiji trip for some time and had been preparing behind the scenes for three weeks, especially in coping with the heat. Meetings have been held in heat chambers, and there has been some calculated chaos to get the team ready for the unusual atmosphere they will strike.

"We understand the challenge and know the atmosphere we're going to get in Suva. They love their rugby, so we're well aware of what we're walking into."

"Their passion is huge. They are keen to play and beat the top teams and you can see that with the energy they play with. I've been lucky enough to travel to Fiji and play against them a few times. They're a different animal when you get over there."

Beating them came down to playing well, limiting their transitions and opportunities to play unstructured rugby.

"But you can fall into the trap of trying to slow the game down too much and stop looking for opportunities. We've talked a lot about going there and playing our game."

The challenge would be one of their tougher ones in the season, especially when they have to play the Brumbies in Canberra next week.

"We're trying to manage the squad and the game time. There are a lot of guys who deserve a start. The game will also be won in the last 20-25 minutes.

"We've got a particularly strong bench we think will come on and make a massive impact at the back end of the game."

He also knew that they needed to ensure players in the squad were getting chances to achieve depth.

"History shows that you'll get injuries the week before a playoff game, or before the last couple of games. So, we need everybody ticking and making sure they are engaged in preparation is a big part of it."

Among the changes from the side that beat the Reds last weekend, Queensland lock Ben Grant will start with Isaia Walker-Leawere, and Siale Lauaki will debut from the bench.

Grant has joined the side from Major League Rugby in the United States, while Lauaki is a product of the Hurricanes development system.

"He [Lauaki] was outstanding for the New Zealand Under-20s last year. He's a good player defensively and on attack. The set piece will be his work-on as a 20-year-old prop.

"We excited for both of them."

Which team's ladder position has you most surprised so far? 👀#SuperRugbyPacific pic.twitter.com/rrn1ZTlbcL

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) April 17, 2024

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