Hurricanes hope to hold back All Blacks star Ardie Savea and Jordie Barrett
Hurricanes coach Jason Holland couldn’t help but think back to last week’s costly loss and wonder if, when the full-time whistle sounded in Friday’s 43-14 win against the Reds.
Holland knew that if they hadn’t stumbled against the Brumbies in Canberra the week before, a bonus points win over the Reds would have secured the Hurricanes a place in the Trans-Tasman Super Rugby final.
Instead, he had to complain about a mistake after finishing two points behind the Blues and Highlanders, who will play in the final in Auckland next Saturday, and the Crusaders, who also missed the game despite the tournament ending. with a perfect 5-0. record.
A place in the Trans-Tasman final would probably have made up for the last place in Super Rugby Aotearoa.
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“I’m always pretty hard on myself at the start and winning two out of eight games earlier in the year and four out of five here is something you wouldn’t really consider a successful season in terms of results,” said Holland.
“There are three games we should have won in the New Zealand competition; the two Chiefs games and the overtime game against the Crusaders, which probably turned our season differently.
“But it gives us very clear things about how we approach next year, and a big part of it is how we handle close games and make sure you win great moments. It’s a bit of a cliché, but figuring out what it takes to win a soccer game is huge.
Now that their Super Rugby season is over for another year, attention will quickly turn to player retention for 2022 with the top priority of out-of-contract All Blacks stars Ardie Savea and Jordie Barrett after losing Ngani Laumape to the French club of Stade Français.
Savea was forced to leave the pitch early in the second half against the Reds with what appeared to be a recurrence of the knee injury that kept him out of most of the Super Rugby campaign Aotearoa, but Holland hoped for his captain’s sake that it wouldn’t rule him out of the All Blacks’ upcoming tests.
“It’s the same knee, which is a little worrying, but it doesn’t feel like when it [first] did it, so hopefully fingers crossed he’ll be okay.
Neither Savea nor Barrett have committed to playing for the Hurricanes beyond this year, but Holland said he was confident to keep the all-star duo after he lured half-back TJ Perenara from Japan and signed the alumni. All Blacks Owen Franks and Dominic Bird to significantly strengthen the team is tight to five.
“I’m pretty optimistic,” Holland said. “You may have read this week, Ards is the one who really likes to leave things up [the end of the season], take the foot off and start these conversations, but she looks pretty positive with Jordie, we had some positive discussions and I’m pretty confident there.
“I’m pretty confident, but you never never say until these things are over.”
Holland would also like to sign another top five, although he is pleased with the development of teenager Ruben Love, who closed a promising first season with a second-half try against the Reds.
“We still have to make sure that at 10 years old we’re strong, so there’s probably one more spot that we need to fill,” he said.
“Let’s not forget that Rubes is probably as capable at 15 as he is 10, so we’ll see what happens in this space.
“I think the last four to five weeks have been great for him and it will be good to see him play for the Wellington Lions.”
As for the format, Holland was heartbroken that he had lost South Africa’s involvement in Super Rugby, but said he preferred teams from New Zealand and Australia to play the only competition. next year.
“You can’t play the same four teams over and over for everyone’s sake. While we look forward to these games, if you have to keep playing the same opposition over and over again, everyone is going to get a bit bored of it.
“It was a stopgap with Covid, and it was a great competition, but if we have the option, we have to face the Australian teams.”