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Hat-Trick hero Rayasi eyes another big performance against Rebels

Hat-Trick hero Rayasi eyes another big performance against Rebels

All BlacksJune 5, 2024

Hurricanes wing Salesi Rayasi's hat-trick of tries in their DHL Super Rugby Pacific win over the Highlanders at the weekend was an example of the teamwork being applied as they now face the Rebels in Saturday's quarterfinal at SKY Stadium.

Rayasi said getting the win was their first goal, and then achieving a bonus point.

"We were lucky to get there, and it was awesome to get a good crowd out, especially when it's a good team like the Highlanders.

"It was good for us to follow a good performance after playing the Chiefs and then being able to go out and do that."

It was enjoyable playing at 4.35pm, and they were looking forward to playing the Rebels at the same time on Saturday.

Rayasi had been through the quarterfinals in the last two seasons and had to travel to Canberra to meet the Brumbies. They lost 33-37 (2023), 25-35 (2022) and in a crucial game in the Covid-reduced competition of 2021, 10-12. 

After the last two years, they wondered what might have happened if they had played at home.

Rayasi remembered when the Hurricanes hosted the final in 2015 only to be beaten by the Highlanders. He was at Lincoln in Canterbury, had returned for the game, and was gutted when they lost.

The 2024 #SuperRugbyPacific Finals series kicks off this Friday 🏆

Who have you got winning this week? pic.twitter.com/Aijqlqcnjd

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) June 1, 2024

"I felt so sorry for the boys. It's weird in a way, kind of ironic, that we're coming out here and playing a home quarterfinal."

The difference for the side this year has been the greater responsibility on players to own their performances.

"Clark [Laidlaw] came in and said, straight out from day one of the pre-season in November, that some of the stuff that came out of the review was that we needed to own our accountability.

"He put a little bit of edge from the Sevens as well. He's got a good track record from winning Commonwealth Games gold medals, World Cups and stuff like that.

"He understands what winning looks like and how it feels. The tangibles and intangibles."

The side's success was a by-product of that.

"We're winning games and we're winning with flair, and in clinical ways that in past years didn't really show that kind of aspect in our game."

Rayasi said it was also helpful to have a coach like Cory Jane, who had experienced what the players now face, was able to make observations, and pass on the benefits.

Being involved with outside backs like Josh Moorby, Ruben Love, Harry Godfrey, and others benefited from Jane's guidance.

Those players had also gained from centre Billy Proctor's form and influence on the side.

"He's a reserved person but at the same time he's got a high IQ of the game. He wants to make the play where he want to, and to put players away as well. He's been awesome this year."

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