Gibbins still out in the cold
Manawatu flanker Callum Gibbins could have won an Oscar for best supporting player as he led the Hurricanes development XV to a 38-33 win over the Chiefs equivalents at FMG Stadium yesterday.
The frustration for Gibbins is that he has been captaining the XV for two seasons now and there's still no sign of him busting the Jack Lam-Ardie Savea grip on the Hurricanes No 7 jersey.
Whether Gibbins is prepared to spend a third year training his lungs out in Wellington, an environment he does enjoy living in with Nehe Milner-Skudder, Mark Abbott and Hadleigh Parkes, is debatable.
"I think I'm ready and they [the Hurricanes] are pretty happy with me," he said.
"They've told me to keep training and have said ‘don't drop your lip'.
"We're going to have to see what happens. My main goal is to play for the A side, the Hurricanes."
He notes that Lam is probably the form opensider in the country so far and Savea is a budding All Black.
In the short term, Gibbins will be back playing for Varsity, which he loves, in a week's time, as long the Hurricanes don't need him.
He also led the development XV to a 39-17 win over the Crusaders XV at Christchurch two weeks ago.
They strangely don't play the Blues but they do play the Chiefs again, at Taupo in three week's time, and then the New Zealand under-20s at Massey University.
Every coach known to man in the lower North Island seemed to be watching yesterday, including the NZ under-20 selectors and the Taranaki brigade eyeing their new Chiefs brothers. It was a crazy match which started with slack defence both ways. The Chiefs bounced in for two tries in 12 minutes to lead 12-5, only for the Hurricanes to go on a rampage, botching two tries, but still getting to 36-12 after 52 minutes.
Teams never lose from that, not after ruling the roost for all but 28 minutes; yeah, wrong!
The Hurricanes tried hard to forfeit, conceding three converted tries in the last 14 minutes and might even have lost it. "A few missed tackles is all it takes," Gibbins said. "We were a pretty fresh team; we only got together at Wellington last [Thursday] night."
An intercept try, a Milner-Skudder chip kick which was run back and a searing run by the electric Chiefs first-five Damian McKenzie led to the tries which panicked the Canes.
That aside, it was about spotting talent. Outstanding for the Hurricanes were Gibbins, hirsute Manawatu flanker Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, first-five Ihaia West, Wellington wing Alosio Tomasi, halfback Ellery Wilson from Hawke's Bay, via Levin and Canterbury, and Manawatu's Antonio Kiri Kiri when he came on in the 58th minute. He and halfback Ben Edwards had been summoned overnight.
The standout though was Hurricanes centre Cardiff Vaega who proved many points about his maligned defence by flattening everyone and shrugging off Chiefs backs. Vaega and Motu Matu'u were the only two full Hurricanes playing, Carl Axtens and Nick Barrett the two contracted Chiefs.
McKenzie (Waikato) set up two tries and looks a dasher. He is the younger brother of Southland's Marty McKenzie, also out of Gore and Christ's College.
Hurricanes development XV 38 (Motu Matu'u 2, Ellery Wilson 2, Alosio Tomasi, Callum Gibbins, tries; Ihaia West 4 con) Chiefs development XV 33 (Seta Tamanivalu 2, Reta Setu, Carl Axtens, Sean Wainui, tries; Damien McKenzie 4 con) HT 24-12.