The Hurricanes will embrace the challenge of winning on foreign soil

Hurricanes coaches John Plumtree, left, and Chris Boyd expect plenty from the team in the Super Rugby playoffs.
HAGEN HOPKINS/GETTY IMAGES.

Hurricanes coaches John Plumtree, left, and Chris Boyd expect plenty from the team in the Super Rugby playoffs.

Finalists. Champions. Quarterfinalists, with hopefully a game or two left in them.

It's a fair record Chris Boyd and John Plumtree have fashioned in three years at the helm of the Hurricanes.

But not one they regard as remotely satisfying, heading into Friday's sudden-death clash with the Brumbies in Canberra.

The Hurricanes knew Dane Coles was over his concussion symptoms once he started niggling people at training.
MATT DUNCAN/STUFF.

The Hurricanes knew Dane Coles was over his concussion symptoms once he started niggling people at training.

"[In] 2015 we were riding the crest of a wave, with a really good side, and then we let ourselves down in the final [against the Highlanders]. There was a little bit of complacency about that performance I reckon," assistant coach Plumtree said on Monday.

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"[In] 2016, no-one really expected too much from us, except for ourselves. We were really hungry to win it, especially when it got to playoff time, and we did that job.

"This year it really doesn't matter what people think of us. It's about what we expect from ourselves and we've got to make sure every one of us is really hungry to win this trophy."

Plumtree's roles at the Hurricanes are the forwards and defence.

You suspect he's also the team's conscience; the man who looks people in the eye after matches and knows if they've done what they said they would or not.

This 2017 Hurricanes team met at the start of the season and talked about standards. In Plumtree's view, there's been times they've lived up to those and times when they haven't.

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That might be best illustrated by what the team have in front of them, starting with Tuesday's flight to Canberra.

In Boyd and Plumtree's first two years in charge, the Hurricanes were good enough to earn home playoff runs. This time around it's Canberra and then probably Johannesburg and Christchurch on the itinerary.

Beat the Brumbies and have the Sharks do the same against the Lions, then the Hurricanes could still have a home semifinal.

But the assumption is that the Lions beckon. That's a big game and victory appears as if it would earn the team a grand final against the Crusaders away or Chiefs at home.

The specifics will be determined if and when the Hurricanes are good enough to make progression a reality. All they know for sure is that they'll be on the road a bit.

Only the Crusaders in Canberra, in 2000, have ever won a grand final on foreign soil, as Plumtree knows full well.

He was head coach of the 2012 Sharks team that beat the defending-champion Reds in a quarterfinal in Brisbane, tipped the Stormers over in a Cape Town semifinal, before losing the decider 37-6 to the Chiefs in Hamilton.

"In the end the travel caught up with us and we couldn't get over it. But we had a crack at it," said Plumtree.

"The challenge for the team this year is it's got to go to South Africa and be able to kick on back in New Zealand potentially."

Plumtree says the Hurricanes have to be excited about the prospect of winning on the road and to meet it "head on."

In that regard, the return of captain Dane Coles from injury is rather handy. The hooker hasn't played since March 18 and will be raring to go off the bench on Friday.

Some captains are talkers but Coles, in Plumtree's estimation, is a "roll the sleeves up kind of bloke" meaning watching from the sidelines hasn't been easy.

"Not taking anything away from TJ [Perenara] or Brad [Shields] or the other leaders, but Colesy's the captain and to have him back now is fantastic for us. He'll make a massive difference to our performance."

 - Stuff

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