Midfield problems trouble Hurricanes after loss

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 08/03/2014
Cardiff Vaega
KENT BLECHYNDEN/ Fairfax NZ
HURRICANE: Cardiff Vaega.

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Second five-eighth has emerged as a major issue for a Hurricanes side with an ultra-fast backline trying to operate on dial up.

The communication breakdown was there for all to see during the fumbling and indecisive 29-21 loss to the Brumbies.

A preseason knee injury to Tim Bateman has been keenly felt and when Hadleigh Parkes withdrew before kick-off last night the midfield malfunction was complete.

Rookie Cardiff Vaega was handed a tough task in being tossed the No 12 jersey and was no match for Wallaby Pat McCabe, who cut capers.

Vaega looks a capable player, but was caught out positionally as the Brumbies ran smart lines in his area.

By the end of the match captain Conrad Smith was at second five eighth for the first time in his life and Alapati Leiua at centre.

Without Bateman, first five eighth Beauden Barrett is lacking a second set of eyes, something coach Mark Hammett touched on after the match.

Ironically, the most logical solution right now would be to put the quietly spoken Leiua at second five-eighth. 

While not a big talker, the Samoan international has a game that would provide some go-forward in the middle of the park and in turn more time for Barrett to make his decisions.

Leiua is too good to be on the wing, though the way Julian Savea played, he would find himself on the left against the Cheetahs next Saturday.

“We’re not getting any rhythm through building phases,” Barrett said last night. “We need one on one opportunities but we’re not doing the basics well enough, getting the ball in our hands early.

“Our basic errors, playing at the wrong end of the field, not clearing our exit zones. Countless times that happened tonight where we were rushing our exit zones.  You can’t build when you are making errors in your own half.

“We tried to switch it blindside, but were were probably too flat and pushing passes. When we build phases we look good, we can score tries, but something is missing, just that little bit of flow.”

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