- By Kevin McCarthy
It would be a cruel heart which was not sorry for the South African cricketers this week, who having dug themselves into a hole, then proceed to keep looking in the bottom of it for a way out.
I personally was sorry for them. But then after about 10 seconds, I thought, no these are South Africans. Being sorry about South African misfortune is in neither of our sporting DNAs when it comes to sport – or most crucially, this weekend’s Super Rugby quarterfinal match.
So I’m not in the least bit sorry for the Bulls that they have stuffed up their air flights and end up having to acclimatize to the windy veldt with minimum time. Good on you, I say, we’ll take anything to make your playing time here miserable. Might even lay on some rubbish weather.
Not that we should need too many outside factors. The Bulls will bring what every South African side brings – muscle and direct play, and probably a limited playbook.
And just as they did in the recent Republic trip, the Hurricanes should have the confidence to now say they can man-handle all the pre-match talk about being vulnerable up front.
It’s been a funny old season, highlighted by the strange factoid that the Hurricanes have the most wins in the NZ conference, one more than the Crusaders. The mosque shooting of course meant the red and blacks had one extra draw result, and then they managed two during actual games.
But 12 wins is 12 wins, and most of them by sheer graft and grit, some from tricky situations. If we’d had some more bonus points, like we usually do, we’d still have finished behind the Crusaders.
So consistency isn’t a problem, and the team is riding a mostly positive wave, punctuated nicely by the Baby Canes romping home over the Blues. So tails up, with some marquee players finally back on board, and a HUGE turnout by you fans, and it would be a major disappointment, shock and kick in the guts if the side doesn’t book its semi final date with destiny in Christchurch.
No doubt most of you have been quietly satisfied if not doing handstands with the two Hurricane signings this week. Tyrel Lomax at prop, and Scott Scrafton at lock, are seen as two future pillars of a robust pack.
We’ll see how that pans out in reality, but as any fan will bore you to tears about the Hurricanes, it’s that pack that we need to strengthen. It’s the most telling rival jab we hear, because, well it’s largely true and has been all through Super Rugby history.
So apparently the coaches and management team have been listening – or more accurately, can work this stuff out without your expert input. One suspected they’ve been after these two for a while behind the scenes.
So the great giant global rugby competition that no-one wanted but was essential for the future has collapsed amid the usual self-interest.
New Zealand you’d imagine was disappointed, but then again.
I don’t know what comes next. But the future has a way of arriving regardless.
The Hurricanes side to host the Bulls on Saturday evening at 7.35pm is:
15 Jordie Barrett
14 Wes Goosen
13 Peter Umaga-Jensen
12 Ngani Laumape
11 Ben Lam
10 Beauden Barrett
9 TJ Perenara
8 Gareth Evans
7 Ardie Savea
6 Reed Prinsep
5 Isaia Walker-Leawere
4 James Blackwell
3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen
2 Dane Coles (c)
1 Toby Smith
16 Asafo Aumua
17 Fraser Armstrong
18 Ben May or Alex Fidow
19 Kane Le’aupepe
20 Du’Plessis Kirifi
21 Richard Judd or Finlay Christie
22 James Marshall
23 Salesi Rayasi