Hurricanes need cooler heads in Cape Town

ACTION MAN: Wing Cory Jane will need to see a bit more ball, particularly from set piece if the Hurricanes are to upset the Stormers in Cape Town.
ACTION MAN: Wing Cory Jane will need to see a bit more ball, particularly from set piece if the Hurricanes are to upset the Stormers in Cape Town.

It's time for cool heads.

The Hurricanes doubters are already dusting off the pitchforks after coach Mark Hammett's men slipped on the start line in Durban.

Fair enough.

The 27-9 loss to the Sharks was hardly the corner turning performance being promised in the pre-season.

Coach Mark Hammett's side needs to take a deep breath and start afresh in Cape Town where another set piece meltdown against the Stormers would fuel an already sceptical fan base.

Hammett described prop Ben Franks as the "team's conscience" this week and the Hurricanes would do well to listen to their loosehead.

"We just have to keep doing what we've been doing," Franks said somewhat surprisingly ahead of his 100th Super Rugby match.

"Our form during pre-season was pretty good. Every year there is a game or two where you don't quite get it right ... we definitely didn't get it right in week one, but if we take the lessons and learn from them it'll serve us well for the rest of the season."

In a nutshell week two is not the time to panic. The Sharks pack was brutish. They had a match under their belt and they caught the Hurricanes on the hop.

Former All Blacks John Schwalger has been promoted to tighthead and Mark Reddish to lock. The pair should not try to perform miracles, but the pack must at least get parity at the set piece to be a chance against a Stormers side that looks useful rather than intimidating.

Jean de Villiers remains a class act in midfield and the loose trio of Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger and Siya Kolisi are immense.

There is a finisher in wing Gio Aplon and a steady hand in fullback Jaco Taute, but the boys from the Cape do not leap out as an attacking threat.

First five-eighth Demetri Catrakilis is tough, but not a great running threat and if the Hurricanes at least win their own ball they should back themselves to be ahead on the scoreboard come fulltime.

That "if" needs to be removed or backs like Cory Jane and Julian Savea will remain as under-employed and frustrated as they were on opening night.

"Well I managed to get two [touches against the Sharks] and one of them was a forward pass, so it was a frustrating day," Jane said after the match.

But win some quality ball and Jane is convinced Hammett's structured template for success will prevail.

"We have to change the way we are as Hurricanes. The competition's been going for how many years and we haven't won the title," he said.

"We need to mix it up with a good kicking game and the right times to run it. We kind of did that on the weekend and now we have to take another step against the Stormers.

"We have to make other teams work a little harder. Every year they kick to us and we want to run it back, but we just put ourselves under pressure.

"The game has changed from what it used to be. When Super Rugby started you could run it from everywhere and score a bunch of tries it was that easy. The defences now are really smart, really hard to get through."

In fullback Marty Banks and first five-eighth Beauden Barrett the Hurricanes possess a dual tactical kicking threat they have lacked in recent seasons.

The Hurricanes defensive mindset looked good against the Sharks, but any upside was blunted by the set piece meltdown.

Get a better start, provide some set piece ball to Barrett, Jane and Julian Savea and a platform for halfback TJ Perenara to snipe from and a valuable away win is possible.

A large group of the Hurricanes players attended US rapper Eminem's concert in Cape Town this week. Hammett will be praying they don't get too lost in the moment at Newlands and miss a realistic opportunity to get their campaign under way.

Stormers v Hurricanes

Venue: Newlands Stadium, Cape Town

Sky Sport 1, 6.10am, tomorrow

Referee: Steve Walsh (AUS)

TAB odds: Stormers $1.40, Hurricanes $2.75

Teams: Hurricanes: Marty Banks, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith (c), Hadleigh Parkes, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Blade Thomson, Jack Lam, Faifili Levave, Mark Reddish, Jeremy Thrush, John Schwalger, Dane Coles, Ben Franks. Reserves: Motu Matu'u, Chris Eves, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, James Broadhurst, Ardie Savea, Chris Smylie, Alapati Leiua, James Marshall. Stormers: Jaco Taute, Kobus van Wyk, Jean de Villiers (c), Damian de Allende, Gio Aplon, Demetri Catrakilis, Louis Schreuder, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger, Siya Kolisi, Manuel Carizza, Rynhardt Elstadt, Frans Malherbe, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff. Reserves: Deon Fourie, Oliver Kebble, Pat Cilliers, Michael Rhodes, Nizaam Carr, Nic Groom, Kurt Coleman, Ryno Eksteen

The Dominion Post