Ben Franks reckons better decision making and more thorough preparation will push the Hurricanes to Super Rugby's playoffs next season.
The big loosehead prop yesterday rejected the notion that a lack of grunt up front was holding the team back from winning the big matches.
''It's the detail to the game plan, the detail in the preparations,'' Franks said when asked why the team had not won more matches.
''Just getting that detail and being a smarter rugby team will turn the close losses into wins. It's something we can fix and fix quickly. Part of it's being young, but you can't play the young team card your whole life.
''The good thing is the guys know that. They've realised now its not age grade rugby where the most athletic team wins. There's a lot of smarts that have to go into it too.
''Hopefully this time next year I'll be standing here saying this is where we've got to [the playoffs]. I still think we're on the right track.''
Franks said he was disappointed by the team's results, but had seen enough over the course of the season to be confident he'd made the right move from the Crusaders.
''I've never been in a team with so much athletic ability and the good thing is a lot of these guys are young,'' he said. ''It's not like we're missing the energy. There's always a good buzz, guys are happy to be here.
''Physically I feel like apart form the Bulls game we've turned up every week and that's not an easy thing to do as a pack.
''I don't know exactly where we lie [in rankings], but we're in the top half of teams getting quality ball [from set piece], so we're giving our backs quality ball to strike off and we're keeping teams to a decent percentage of not getting easy ball.''
Franks' acquisition from the Crusaders was an undoubted success, shoring up a scrum that barely held its own last year. But while his own game prospered, he said the biggest positive was the improvement of young props Jeffery Toomaga-Allen and Reggie Goodes.
Franks also noted the Hurricanes had a large number of players in the All Blacks training camps this season and would benefit from that in the future.
''There has been a lot of development with lot of guys and we have a lot more leadership within the group. The next two games its important we keep on growing and the guys who are here next season turn up and start where we want to pick up [next year].
''There's no use hanging our heads low now that we're not going to be there [in the playoffs], but we can start building for next year.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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