Mark Hammett's talking sense yet again.
You, me and Uncle Tom Cobley and all might be thinking the Hurricanes are a shot's eye to stuff the Blues tomorrow night, but not the bloke running the show at Rugby League Park.
The Hurricanes coach yesterday bristled at talk that his team were potential world-beaters on the back of last week's remarkable 45-8 win over the Chiefs. Sure, it looked sublime at times, but not to Hammett's trained eye.
Nor did he sense any vulnerability about the Blues, just because they'd been beaten by the Super Rugby-leading Sharks last weekend.
The Blues are a different side on Eden Park and the Hurricanes don't get a few points start just because they did some pretty stuff the week before.
"Oh, we haven't written them off, I'll tell you that right now," Hammett said.
"We're deadly serious about the threats they pose [and] the fact that they probably had the better of the Sharks game, certainly possession-wise, and it was a close game. You talk about the Sharks, they beat the Crusaders the week before, down to 14 and 13 men at times, so they [the Blues] are extremely dangerous and we respect them."
The Hurricanes sit fifth on the table, with the Blues in 10th. Given the way Hammett's lot started the season, that might suggest his is a good team that's only getting better. But he's not been seduced by the Chiefs result or the position on the ladder.
"Look, you've got to be careful about that. We finished some opportunities and scored some really good set-piece tries and I think that probably exaggerated the score. There's certainly still areas that we weren't overly happy with," Hammett said.
They've been thoroughly dealt with at training this week, which also helped sort some of the complicated bracketing necessary when the Hurricanes initially named their team yesterday.
Loosehead prop Ben Franks' groin didn't pass muster yesterday and he's now out of tomorrow's side, replaced by Reg Goodes. Hooker Dane Coles sat out with a stomach upset and openside flanker Jack Lam a back problem, but both will be fit to start.
Brendon Edmonds will be the reserve loosehead prop and Motu Matu'u is back-up to Coles.
The only change in the backline that played the Chiefs is the inclusion of Matt Proctor at fullback for the injured Andre Taylor. Usually a wing, Proctor is still learning his trade in the No 15 jumper. Among other things, increasing his talk has been a major work-on and, just as the shy 21-year-old was about to open up about being more vocal, team-mate Cory Jane who, as an aside appears to train with his wedding ring on, thought he'd stop by for a listen.
That shut Proctor up completely, but he's promising to be more vocal at Eden Park, where he said his main goal was to get himself in the game as early as possible.
Meanwhile, the Blues will hand Hawke's Bay star Ihaia West his first Super Rugby start at first five-eighth.
- The Dominion Post
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