Weather puts 'Canes, Crusaders match in doubt

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 20/06/2013
Faifili Levave
CHRIS SKELTON/Fairfax NZ
CHILLY: Faifili Levave and the Hurricanes were wrapped up warm during training yesterday.

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Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett is hoping the weather bomb that's about to hit the country won't threaten Friday's Super Rugby friendly against the Crusaders in Levin.

The Crusaders are scheduled to fly north on game day but could face a nervous wait as a polar blast sweeps its way across the country.

Heavy rain is set to hit Christchurch over coming days with the possibility of snow, while severe gales are forecast to batter Wellington into Friday.

The Hurricanes are doing their best to keep their preparation as normal as possible, but will have one eye on the Metservice over the next two days.

"Unfortunately that [weather] could play a part," Hammett said today. "We actually haven't worried too much about the weather, we've just worried about he detail in our game especially in some of the tighter areas.

"So it [the wet weather] might actually work quite well in terms of testing it. We want to get back up to that intensity of Super Rugby and that's why we planned the game.

"We certainly hope the weather doesn't effect it to the stage where we don't get that out of it."

The match provides a bridge for the two sides during a three week break in Super Rugby to accommodate the All Blacks June test series against France.

More than 2000 tickets have been sold for the match, but a worst-case weather scenario could threaten the Crusaders ability to travel north.

It wouldn't be the first time a Hurricanes-Crusaders match has been cancelled or disrupted by mother nature.

The two side's regular season fixture in 2011 was called off following the Christchurch earthquake, while many believe the "fog final" between the teams in 2006 should not have gone ahead due to heavy fog.

Presuming Friday's match does go ahead, Hammett has named a squad of 24 players minus his seven All Blacks, two Samoan internationals and New Zealand under 20s captain Ardie Savea.

The feature of the side is the naming of former All Black and Hurricanes prop John Schwalger at tight-head.

Schwalger has re-signed with Wellington rugby and the Hurricanes for the next two seasons, but is not part of this season's Super Rugby squad after recently arriving back from France.

Taranaki hooker Timo Tutavaha and Manawatu fullback Nehe Milner-Scudder have been called up for the match.

Tutavaha could yet see more action with Motu Matu'u ruled out for the season due to his broken forearm after follow up scans.

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Friday's match kicks off at 6.45pm. Children's admission is free.

HURRICANES: Andre Taylor, Richard Buckman, Reynold Lee-Lo, Ope Peleseuma, Matt Proctor, James Marshall, Chris Smylie, Brad Shields, Karl Lowe, Faifili Levave, James Broadhurst, Blade Thomson, John Schwalger, Ash Dixon, Reg Goodes. Reserves: Timo Tutavaha, Ben May, Mark Reddish, Jason Eaton, Callum Gibbins, Mike Coman, TJ Perenara, Samisoni Fisilau, Nehe Milner-Scudder.

- The Dominion Post

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