Banks makes a pleasing debut for Canes

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 24/02/2014
Marty Banks
Getty Images
HIGH AND HIGHER: Marty Banks beats Ryan Kankowski to the high ball during the Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and Sharks at Kings Park yesterday.

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Banks will probably beat himself up a bit when he watches the replay of his Super Rugby debut.

Once the guilt passes he'll realise he was one of the bright spots of the Hurricanes 27-9 loss to the Sharks in Durban yesterday.

Recruited after a stellar national provincial championship, Banks showed he can play fullback for the Hurricanes as well as he played first five-eighth for Tasman.

New Zealand fullbacks are often the flighty types. They have pace in spades, but lack the subtlety the position requires.

Banks is fast enough, but it's his game sense that was most pleasing as he soaked up his first big match experience in front of 23,000 in the Shark Tank.

He hadn't been nervous before his debut, didn't find the pace too great and said his thumping 54-metre penalty kick wasn't as far as he'd landed in training during the week.

Sharks second five-eighth Frans Steyn would be impressed, but it was Banks' option-taking that stood out.

Banks formed a pleasing one-two punch with Beauden Barrett in the back field that the Hurricanes have not had in recent years.

Counter-attack isn't about having a crack as much as knowing when to do so and when not.

Banks didn't run himself and his team into trouble, but he did create a number of opportunities including with a backhand offload that set hooker Dane Coles free and some nice interplay with Cory Jane.

None of which will completely erase that defining pass to Sharks wing Lwazi Mvovo with 15 minutes to play.

"I looked up and all I saw was yellow," Banks said of the 65th minute skip pass. "I didn't actually pick the guy [Mvovo] up until I was halfway through the pass and the ball was in the air and it was too late to do anything.

"It was just one of those things I didn't pick him up ... I'll take it on the chin and learn from it during the week and hopefully get another crack next week."

That's highly likely, and not just because replays (the TMO disagrees) showed Mvovo was not behind the hindmost foot of the ruck when halfback TJ Perenara picked up the ball.

Banks and Jane looked sharp, Julian Savea was a mixed bag on the other wing where his defence was strong bar being stood up by Paul Jordaan, and Hadleigh Parkes and Conrad Smith worked hard in the midfield.

Barrett was measured rather than flashy at first five-eighth, but in fairness didn't have a lot of attacking ball to work with thanks to the back-pedalling scrum.

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Perenara, who did his best to up the tempo and take the set piece out of play with quick taps, described it as a "tough old game".

But he believed there was enough to suggest a better performance will come in Cape Town next week.

"We stood up for long periods of that game and little mistakes when we had them under the pump probably let them off," he said. "There were a lot of positives going forward, but we know as a team if we want to win a championship we need to capitalise on those opportunities."

- The Dominion Post

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