Aisle be Back: Hurricanes v Highlanders

08/03/2019

Hurricanes fans at last Friday’s match against the Brumbies had plenty to cheer about. PHOTO: David Brownlie Photos 

 – By Kevin McCarthy

How’s that world league thing looking. Slightly better than the Chiefs at this stage.

Still, if like most of the world, you think it’s a dumb idea, do not underestimate that it will make a comeback and in fact, eventually occur.

My reasoning is that if world rugby is all about the money – and certainly that seems the case for a lot of administrators – then that ultimately will call the shots.

Now I’m not saying that this is about lining pockets. But once it becomes the ethos that a sport can only survive by growing its markets, growing its revenue, growing its broadcast reach, it’s virtually impossible to stop that mutating. Things that would have been unthinkable soon become must-dos.

So what would it take to stop the rot? Well, it would I guess mean the sport globally deciding to put the brakes on the money train. I don’t blame the players, but really – does anyone need a million bucks for a season of a sport they love.

Do fans need to be stung for hundreds of dollars to attend games at the highest level.

Does rugby need millionaires with giant wallets and big egos.

Do we need new competitions when the old ones are being allowed to perish and die.

I doubt any of these trends can be stopped. The player revolt is good to see, although I doubt for example they are going to vote for less money.  And will the Southern Unions be happy to be the poorer cousins until eternity.

As for the Pacific Islands, it’s heartwarming to see the interest being shown in them not being shut out.

Although it does ring a little bit of hypocrisy, given the failure to give that amazing talent pool a chance to compete in meaningful global competitions.

The latest development is that apparently there would be promotion/relegation, and Fiji would be part of the starting 12 nations. It all has the whiff of half-baked plans being changed on the hoof depending on the feedback received.

If that’s how World Rugby intends to design its brave new world, it is not inspiring confidence at all.

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Can the Canes back up last week’s strong rebound. That’s pretty much the key question this Friday, for the first home match of the season in Wellington.

The Highlanders have plenty of motivation too.  This could well be the key clash for which of the two can finish second in the NZ conference. Technically the Crusaders can drop a game somewhere and throw the race wide open, but I’m not betting it will occur.

What do you make of Jordie’s selection on the wing? I thought his effort there against Italy got a bit over-hyped, including that he was a long-term option there.

Then again, it could be so. He and we will only find out if he gets a few more outings there. I wonder if Hansen was on the phone to Plumtree this week.

As for Jordie, he will I guess be happy to start anywhere. After all they did use him in the lineout a couple of times during the Lions series.

Hurricanes v Highlanders

Hurricanes head coach John Plumtree has named a settled squad to face the Highlanders clash.

Plumtree has made just two changes from the starting XV which impressed in their 43-13 win over the Brumbies last round.

Experienced prop Jeff To’omaga-Allen will start after coming off the bench last week while Jordie Barrett returns (as noted above).

Barrett will start on the right wing with impressive debutant Chase Tiatia retained at fullback after his excellent first-up performance.

Asafo Aumua returns to the squad as well.

The team is:

15 Chase Tiatia
14 Jordie Barrett
13 Matt Proctor
12 Ngani Laumape
11 Ben Lam
10 Beauden Barrett
9 TJ Perenara
8 Ardie Savea
7 Du’Plessis Kirifi
6 Vaea Fifita
5 Liam Mitchell
4 James Blackwell
3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen
2 Dane Coles (c)
1 Chris Eves

Reserves

16 Asafo Aumua
17 Fraser Armstrong
18 Ben May
19 Isaia Walker-Leawere
20 Reed Prinsep
21 Richard Judd
22 Jackson Garden-Bachop
23 Vince Aso

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