Beauden Barrett and Vince Aso shine as Hurricanes decimate the Cheetahs
John Plumtree remains poised to succeed Chris Boyd as Hurricanes head coach.
Plumtree, the defence coach at the defending Super Rugby champions, has been linked with elevation to the All Blacks, in the wake of Wayne Smith's decision to retire.
Scott McLeod, of the Highlanders, is the other man who'll apparently receive strong consideration for the defence-coaching role Smith will give up at the conclusion of this year's Rugby Championship.
Plumtree and Boyd have worked together for years. Boyd's been the assistant for much of that time, before taking the head coaching spot at the Hurricanes.
Boyd's an unabashed admirer of Plumtree and hopeful his old mate will be around to see their Super Rugby succession plan through to fruition.
"I think he would do a good job. I think he's more than capable of doing that job," Boyd said after the Hurricanes' 61-7 win over the Cheetahs at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.
"Will he go? Your guess is as good as mine. Like other people, when they map out their career paths, he'll make a decision on whether he wants to stay in the Hurricanes' organisation and take over from me when it's my time to go, or whether he'll go into the All Blacks and work in that environment.
"They're not going to appoint, there's going to be a process is my understanding. I don't know whether he'll enter that process or not."
Plumtree succeeding Boyd at the Hurricanes has "always" been the plan and the preference is for that plan not to change.
"When he was coaching in Ireland with Joe Schmidt and we got our heads together - when there was going to be a change in the Hurricanes - the understanding I had with him was that he wouldn't run against me as the head coach," said Boyd.
"We agreed on a timeframe [about] when it was my turn to finish and his turn to take over and that's still in place."
Boyd's contracted until the end of 2018, at which point the head-coaching gig is still expected to become Plumtree's.
Steve Hansen's deal as All Blacks head coach expires in February 2020, with Steve Tew's tenure as New Zealand Rugby chief executive set to end then too. Who knows how the national picture might look by then?
In the meantime there isn't a great deal to be said about the Hurricanes' win over the Cheetahs. They are better than the South Africans and proved it.
Along the way centre Vince Aso scored a hat-trick of tries, to take his season's tally to 13. That saw him eclipse the franchise's old single-season record, held by Tana Umaga.
Beauden Barrett kicked five-from-five for the Hurricanes, in his first goalkicking stint in two months. Much to the surprise of Boyd, who'd indicated Otere Black was going to get first crack.
"I would've gone to the TAB and...oh no, we're not allowed to do that," Boyd said, to the amusement of those in the Westpac Stadium press room.
"I would've thought that Otere would've kicked but they had a little chat during the week and Beaudy decided he was ready to kick and so he did."
And well too, before Boyd gave him a spell at the 50-minute mark with the team 35-7 up.
It was a decent performance from the Hurricanes, particularly on defence. The Cheetahs had been averaging 31 points against New Zealand opposition this season, so seven was a fair ay short of that.
Hurricanes 61 (Vince Aso 3, Vaea Fifita, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Jeff To'omaga-Allen, Ben Lam, Leni Apisai tries; Beauden Barrett 5 con, Otere Black 4 con) Cheetahs 7 (Fred Zeilinga tries; Zeilinga con). HT: 21-7.