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Thread: Super 14 overview (NZ)

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    Super 14 overview (NZ)

    BLUES 2010
    The Blues were one of the early pace-setters in Super Rugby immediately after the advent of professional rugby, winning the Super 12 championship in 1996 and 1997, losing the 1998 final, and winning the title again in 2003.

    But apart from their semi-final loss to the Sharks in 2007, their performance in the Super 14 has been disappointing, with sixth, eighth and ninth positions on the log.
    Granted though, last season's ninth place may well have been appreciably higher for the pride of Auckland and its partner unions, North Harbour and Northland, were it not for the squad having suffered one injury after another.
    There are nine changes to the 28-man Blues squad from their 2009 group, with significant changes coming in last season's problem area of loose forwards and inside backs.
    Coach Pat Lam is happy with the balance of his 2010 squad and with the experience he now has to complement the talented younger players in the group.
    Crucial to the Blues success in 2010 will be remaining relatively free of injury, especially after Ali Williams (who had been appointed vice captain) has had to undergo surgery to repair an Achilles tendon. A similar Achilles tendon injury, as well as shoulder problems, had kept Williams out of rugby for most of 2009, but he had been recovering well and had expected to be fit for the start of the Super 14 campaign, but in the Blues preseason clash with the Chiefs - his first game back - he came off injured after less than four minutes.
    Skipper Keven Mealamu ruptured a chest muscle against the Springboks in August, but he, much to the relief of the Blues, has recovered.
    Mealamu, Rudi Wulf, Isaia Toeava, Joe Rokocoko, Anthony Tuitavake, and returning midfield star Luke McAlister all missed the All Blacks November northern hemisphere tour in order to recover from their injuries and will be keen to perform impressively in the Super 14 and regain their All Black status later in the season.
    Pat Lam will encourage his players to play an adventurous, creative brand of rugby and they may be one of the most exciting teams to watch.

    Strengths: Any team boasting forwards of the calibre of Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, John Afoa, Ali Williams and Jerome Kaino and backs like Stephen Brett, Luke McAlister, Isaia Toeava and Joe Rokocoko must be regarded as potent opposition. Their attacking pattern should see them score a lot of tries.

    Weaknesses: There are no obvious weaknesses in player ranks, but there remains the danger of continuing the tendency in recent years to under-perform in games when it really counts. The team appears better balanced than last year's squad, with the specific endeavour to improve the quality of players at 9 and 10 and loose-forwards. The loss to injury of vice captain Ali Williams is a big blow. Williams, with 61 Test and 71 Super caps, is one of the world's best lock-forwards and a key leadership figure in the Blues team.

    Noteworthy acquisitions: Lam regards the acquisition of inside backs Stephen Brett (from the Crusaders) and Alby Mathewson and Daniel Kirkpatrick (both from the Hurricanes) as key signings. Draft pick-up Brett could prove a valuable addition; his goal will be to ignite the Blues backline. The Blues have overhauled their loose forward ranks as well, introducing Wellington flanker Serge Lilo (regarded as a particularly tough competitor at breakdown), Aucklander Peter Saili, and North Harbour pair Viliame Ma'afu and Tom Chamberlain. Saili and Chamberlain are promoted from last year's Blues wider training group.

    Noteworthy losses: Jimmy Gopperth to Newcastle Falcons, Michael Hobbs to the Highlanders, and Josh Blackie is back with the Kobe Kobelco Steelers for a third season after provisionally parting ways with his Japanese team at the end of 2008. Fly half Tasesa Lavea has moved to Clermont (France). Justin Collins, who played over 100 games for the Blues, has not officially announced his retirement but it is doubtful he will play again after sustaining a number of serious concussions last season.

    Coach: Pat Lam goes into the second year of his three-year contract to coach the Blues. After a spectacular career as a player, representing Samoa at three World Cups, he coached the Auckland Air New Zealand Cup team from 2004 to halfway through the 2008 season, winning the national championship in 2005 and 2007, in 2007 securing the Ranfurly Shield as well. His assistant coaches are former All Blacks Shane Howarth and Liam Barry.

    Captain: Keven Mealamu, who now has 71 Test caps for the All Blacks and 95 Super Rugby caps, is widely regarded as one of the best hookers in the world. Lam says the leadership style of Mealamu is not to be boisterous, but rather to lead by example. "He has [the players'] respect and he works by example," says Lam, adding: "That can have more impact out there than guys ranting and raving. Kevin does talk, but he is not out there shouting and that sort of stuff. However, when he talks the guys listen, and I think we have a good balance with other individuals in the team."

    Potential bolter: Fly-half Daniel Kirkpatrick was Player of the Tournament when New Zealand won the IRB U20 World Cup in 2008, played for the Vodafone Wellington Lions which won the Ranfurly Shield later that season, and played for the Hurricanes in the 2009 Super 14. Having also won the U19 World Cup and debuted for the Lions as an 18-year old in 2007, Kirkpatrick has achieved great success as a junior player - but he has to take that talent to the next level and perform in the Super 14. Could this be the beginning of a stellar career for him on the big rugby stage?

    2009 Position: Ninth
    Best finish: Super 12 champions in 1996, 1997, 2003
    Worst finish: 11th (2000)
    Home Venues: Eden Park, Auckland (Capacity: 50,000), North Harbour Stadium, Albany (Capacity: 25,000)

    2010 Prospects: Ravaged by injuries in 2009, the Blues used 16 players new to the Super 14, more than any other team. If they can keep their first-choice players on the field for most of the campaign, their improved mixture of experience and youth this year could see them as semi-final contenders. Certainly, they have the talent to be a formidable combination.

    Blues squad: Tony Woodcock, John Afoa, Charlie Faumuina, Tevita Mailau, Keven Mealamu, Tom McCartney, Anthony Boric, Filo Paulo*, Kurtis Haiu, Jerome Kaino, Peter Saili, Serge Lilo, Tom Chamberlain, Chris Lowrey, Viliame Ma'afu, Alby Mathewson, Chris Smylie, Stephen Brett, Daniel Kirkpatrick, Luke McAlister, Benson Stanley, Isaia Toeava, George Pisi, Rudi Wulf, Anthony Tuitavake, Joe Rokocoko, Rene Ranger, Paul Williams.
    (* with James King and Andrew van der Heijden both unavailable, little-known North Harbour lock Filo Paulo will replace the injured Ali Williams for the start of the Super 14)

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    CHIEFS 2010
    In 2009 the Chiefs enjoyed their best ever season of Super Rugby. They scored their most consecutive victories, their defensive record was their best ever, their second position on the table was their highest to date, and it was only their second appearance in a semi-final. Just one point prevented their finishing top of the log, which would have meant hosting the final.
    In the final they were well beaten by an unstoppable Bulls outfit playing close to the limits of their potential, but it was a memorable season for the Waikato-based franchise.
    Could this be the year the Chiefs win the championship for the first time?
    Coach Ian Foster has retained 20 players from his 2009 squad and is happy with this consistency in personnel. He has drafted only player, with a few additions from the Chiefs wider group. The class of 2009 showed they can win impressively and consistently and will be determined to go all the way in 2010 after going so close last year.
    Crucial to their success will how they perform without skipper Mils Muliaina, who will miss the first three rounds of the competition as he enjoys a brief, hard earned, richly deserved sabbatical.
    It's a tough start too, with Muliaina missing the games in Durban, Johannesburg and Perth. The Chiefs may find themselves playing catch-up on the ladder when he returns to lead the team.

    Strengths: When at full strength they boast a potent backline. With Muliaina at full back, Sitiveni Sivivatu and Lelia Masaga on the wings, Richard Kahui and Callum Bruce at centre, either Stephen Donald or Mike Delany at 10 and Brendon Leonard at 9, they will take some stopping. And there is no lack of skill and aggression in a loose forward trio comprising any of Liam Messam, Tanerau Latimer, Sione Lauaki, Luke Braid or Colin Bourke.

    Weaknesses: Nothing obvious, other than a tendency to be slow starters in the competition, but would they have some concern about being a bit thin on heavyweight class and depth in their tight five?

    Noteworthy signings: Tight-head Nathan White returns after being injured for most of the 2009 campaign. Locks Romana Graham (from Waikato) and Culum Retallick (Bay of Plenty); loose forwards Luke Braid (Bay of Plenty lock or flank Jarrad Hoeata (Taranaki, the only draft selection); scrum half Junior Poluleuligaga (Bay of Plenty); from Counties Manukau Tim Nanai-Williams (full back or wing); Craig Clarke (Taranaki lock); Ben Afeaki (tight-head prop, from North Harbour); Hikawera Elliot (Hawke's Bay hooker).

    Noteworthy losses: Scrum half Toby Morland has moved to Munster. Tight-head Ben May (knee ligament surgery). Sosene Anesi crosses the Tasman Sea to join the Waratahs.

    Coach: In his seventh season now as Chiefs coach, Ian Foster has the experience and acumen to guide his men at least as well as any Super 14 coach. With Foster in charge, the Chiefs will offer intelligent structure and a game plan designed to win consistently. Craig Stevenson returns as assistant coach, with Keith Robinson as line-out coach.

    Captain: Mils Muliaina - but only from game four onward. Muliaina is more than one of the world's premier full backs; he is a class act as leader and will be much missed in weeks one to three. Loose forward Sione Lauaki was a surprise appointment as captain for the first three rounds. Though Lauaki has never captained any team at first class level, coach Foster speaks highly of his leadership ability and especially of his off-field contribution to the Chiefs build-up to the Super 14 play-offs last season.

    Potential bolters: 24-year old loose forward Tanerau Latimer returns to the Chiefs for his fourth season, and with 40 Super 14 matches and five All Black games now behind him, he has developed into one of New Zealand's most effective openside flanks, physically combative but more accurate at the break-down than most. He is also highly rated for his leadership, youthful though he may be. Luke Braid, a 21-year old specialist openside flank, played for the New Zealand team which won the IRB Junior World Championship in 2008 and was named IRB Junior Player of the Year that year. Much is expected of him.

    2009 Position: 2nd (beat Hurricanes in semi-final, lost final to Bulls)
    Best finish: 2nd in 2009
    Worst finish: 11th in Super 12 in 1996
    Home Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton (capacity 26,350)

    2010 Prospects: The Chiefs have sometimes been slow out of the blocks, and with Muliaina not available for the first three games, this may compound the problem.They may well struggle to build another winning streak and perform as impressively this year as they did last year, but then again, it would take a brave rugby follower to bet against their doing themselves proud for the second consecutive year.

    Chiefs squad: Nathan White, Ben Afeaki, James McGougan, Sona Taumalolo, Aled de Malmanche, Hika Elliot, Kevin O'Neill, Craig Clarke, Culum Retallick, Romana Graham, Jarrad Hoeata, Liam Messam, Tanerau Latimer, Luke Braid, Sione Lauaki, Colin Bourke, Brendon Leonard, Junior Poluleuligaga, Stephen Donald, Mike Delany, Callum Bruce, Jackson Willison, Richard Kahui, Lelia Masaga, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Dwayne Sweeney, Tim Nanai-Williams, Mils Muliaina

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    CRUSADERS 2010
    The Crusaders have been the benchmark for Super Rugby, setting the standard which most of their rivals have struggled to emulate. Winning seven Super championships puts them well ahead of three-time winning Blues, and two-time champions Brumbies and Bulls.
    But the Crusaders were beaten semi-finalists last season after getting their campaign off to a disappointing start and then winning seven of their last eight games to squeeze into the play-offs.
    They remain the team to beat - now perhaps along the Bulls after the Pretoria team's spectacular 2009 campaign.
    Last year, of course, the Crusaders were without their talisman Dan Carter, in France playing for Perpignan, a sojourn which came to a premature, painful end when he injured his Achilles tendon. Carter is back, which makes a world of difference.
    Skipper Richie McCaw will not exercise the sabbatical clause in his NZRFU contract, which would allow him to miss the entire Super 14, but he will take extended leave and will not play his first game until week four.
    Coach Todd Blackadder had the unenviable task last year of succeeding Robbie Deans - no sinecure considering Deans' record with the Crusaders of five championships and two losses in finals. He will have learned valuable lessons in his first year in charge and be more confident of success this year.

    Strengths: The team structures and consummate game plan set up over the years by Deans, which Blackadder is endeavouring to enhance, ensures that the Crusaders are potent on attack and difficult to breach on defence. They have over the years been particularly adept at making opponents pay dearly for errors. Dan Carter is a rugby magician and Richie McCaw is the only player to win the IRB Player of the Year Award twice; any team based around these two players is fortunate indeed.

    Weakness: There are no substantial weaknesses in the Crusaders team, but McCaw's captaincy and his impact as a flank on every game he plays, will be sorely missed in the first three weeks.

    Noteworthy signings: The big one: Carter. In addition, the Crusaders have secured Aucklander Daniel Bowden (their only draft player) as back-up to Carter; he has attacking skills and is an accurate goal-kicker. Acquisitions from the Hurricanes, wing Zac Guildford and centre Robert Fruean, add potential excitement to the attacking flair. Former All Black lock Chris Jack returns after two years at London club Saracens and then a brief Currie Cup campaign with Western Province, though wrist surgery will delay his start, probably until week four. Hooker Ti'i Paulo, prop Peter Borlase, and 21-year old lock Sam Whitelock boost the pack. Paulo is a former New Zealand U21 skipper, featuring in world title winning age-group teams at both U19 and U21 level, but has struggled with injury.

    Noteworthy losses: Leon MacDonald to Kintetsu Liners in Japan; fly half Stephen Brett to the Blues; lock Ross Filipo to Bayonne (France); centre Casey Laulala to Cardiff Blues (Wales). Hooker Jason Macdonald has moved back to the Highlanders after his 2009 draft to the Crusaders.

    Coach: Former All Black skipper Todd Blackadder won the Super 12 three times as Crusaders captain. He now has a year of Super 14 coaching experience behind him after serving as Tasman Director of Rugby and then their coach, coaching Edinburgh, and gaining international exposure as Scotland assistant coach. His assistant coaches are Mark Hammett and Daryl Gibson.

    Captain: IRB Player of the Year in 2006 and 2009, Richie McCaw is a serious contender for this award every year. He is recognised as one of the great players of the modern era, a skilful and relentless fetcher and an inspirational leader. He leads cerebrally as well as by example. There are few players in the world who match him for impact on every game he plays. No official announcement has been made on who will stand in as captain while McCaw is on sabbatical, but since Kieran Read has taken over the captaincy previously when McCaw has been unavailable, it's likely that this will happen again.

    Potential bolters: Robbie Fruean was IRB U19 Player of the Year in 2007 before undergoing open-heart surgery to repair potentially life-threatening inflammation of the heart. At home at centre or wing, he is regarded as a player of real potential. Zac Guildford enjoyed a dream 2009. He was one of the stars at the 2009 Junior World Cup in Japan, was then the leading try-scorer in the Air New Zealand Cup, scoring 13 tries for Hawke's Bay, and in November made his Test debut for the All Blacks against Wales in Cardiff.

    2009 Position: Fourth
    Best finish: Winners - 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008
    Worst finish: 12th in Super 12 in 1996
    Home Venue: Jade Stadium, Christchurch (capacity 36,500)

    2010 Prospects: It would come as a major surprise were the Crusaders not to make the semi-finals, and few would wage a confident bet against their playing in the final.

    Crusaders squad: Wyatt Crockett, Owen Franks, Ben Franks, Peter Borlase, Corey Flynn, Ti'i Paulo, Brad Thorn, Isaac Ross, Chris Jack, Sam Whitelock, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw, George Whitelock, Jonathan Poff, Thomas Waldrom, Andy Ellis, Kahn Fotuali'i, Daniel Carter, Daniel Bowden, Ryan Crotty, Tim Bateman, Robert Fruean, Adam Whitelock, Sean Maitland, Kade Poki, Zac Guildford, Colin Slade, Jared Payne.

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    HIGHLANDERS 2010
    Since the Super 12 grew into the Super 14 in 2006, the Highlanders have achieved ninth position on the log twice and eleventh place twice. In 2008 they won only three games and in 2009 only four.
    Can they perform at a substantially higher level in 2010? Do they have the personnel to challenge for a semi-final spot?
    With no heavyweight acquisitions, this would seem unlikely, but they do have a few young players of real potential to complement stand-out performers Jimmy Cowan, Jamie Mackintosh and Adam Thomson, and new All Blacks Tom Donnelly and Ben Smith.
    Something resembling disaster was averted for the Highlanders when Cowan's speculated move to Auckland and the Blues, and Mackintosh's possible transfer to Wellington and availability for the Hurricanes, did not come to fruition. The loss of Cowan in particular would have been devastating.
    The Highlanders do not have the player pool of the other New Zealand Super 14 franchises, and appear again not to have similar depth in quality. Much of their success will depend on whether they can remain relatively free of injury and keep their first-choice selection together.

    Strengths: Their location is an asset. It's a long way for visiting teams to travel to the southern end of South Island, and match conditions can be cold and uncomfortable for the visiting players. Cowan is an accomplished international scrum half, much respected by opponents. Their pack could surprise a few teams. A few of the talented youngsters new to Super 14 may just enhance their reputations in a big way in the next few months.

    Weakness: The core of stand-out performers at top level is not extensive. They do not have an abundance of top-of-the-range quality players and lack depth in reserve too.

    Noteworthy signings: Michael Hobbs (from the Blues, comfortable at 10 or 12); wing James Paterson (Canterbury); prop Bronson Murray (Blues 2008, Crusaders 2009); Jason Macdonald (hooker, back after a 2009 draft to the Crusaders); No.8 Nasi Manu (Crusaders); Robbie Robinson (fly half or full back, only 20 years old but with 22 caps for Southland already ); and two of Southland's 2009 stand-out players, John Hardie (flank) and Joe Tuineau (lock).

    Noteworthy losses: Anthony Perenise, who has returned to the Hurricanes after a 2009 draft to the Highlanders; Daniel Bowden (on draft to the Crusaders); David Hall (injured). Not contracted: fly-half Johnny Leota, No.8 George Naoupu, lock Ross Kennedy, and wing Lucky Mulipola.

    Coaches: Glenn Moore goes into his third season in charge of the Highlanders and will have Peter Russell and Barry Matthews as his assistants. Having now earned his spurs, as it were, at club, provincial and Super 14 level, and having served over the years as specialist defence coach, assistant coach and then head coach, Moore has the experience and acumen to get the best out of whatever talent he has at his disposal.

    Captain: Jimmy Cowan is pivotal to team performance, both as player and leader. An All Black since 2004, he now has 67 Super caps and has played 31 Tests. Jamie Mackintosh is the likely stand-in skipper if Cowan were to be injured or rested.

    Potential bolters: Loose forward Nasi Manu was surplus to requirements at the Crusaders, but with greater consistency of performance could make a major impact. A former schoolboy and U19 and U20 star, now 21 years old, he has played 17 Super games. Since the Highlanders may well not start 20-year old rookie Robbie Robinson at 10, this may be the year for Michael Hobbs to stake his claim as a future stellar performer. Hobbs, a superb schoolboy and U19 fly half and inside centre, is now 22 years old, and many feel is overdue for delivery on his promise.

    2009 Position: 11th
    Best finish: Beaten finalists in 1999
    Worst finish: 12th in Super 12 in 1997
    Home Venues: Carisbrook, Dunedin (capacity 29,000), Rugby Park, Invercargill (capacity 17,000) and Queenstown (capacity 12,000)

    2010 Prospects: The Highlanders look likely to be New Zealand's weakest Super 14 side again, but they can be expected to produce a few upsets.

    Highlanders squad: Jamie Mackintosh, Clint Newland, Chris King, Bronson Murray, Jason Macdonald, Jason Rutledge, Josh Bekhuis, Tom Donnelly, Hayden Triggs, Joe Tuineau, Adam Thomson, Alando Soakai, John Hardie, Tim Boys, Nasi Manu, Stephen Setephano, Jimmy Cowan, Sean Romans, Matt Berquist, Michael Hobbs, Jayden Hayward, Jason Shoemark, Kendrick Lynn, James Paterson, Fetu'u Vainikolo, Ben Smith, Robbie Robinson, Israel Dagg

    ################################################## ########
    HURRICANES 2010
    The Hurricanes have reached the play-offs in three of the four years since the advent of the Super 14 in 2006, but have been unable to translate this into success when it really counts, suffering defeat in the final in 2006 and losing in the semi-finals in 2008 and 2009.

    With the 2010 squad benefiting from the return of the majority of last season's players, and with the inclusion of 13 All Blacks in their ranks, they boast an abundance of experience and talent.
    Foremost amongst their All Black stars are players of the calibre of Rodney So'oialo, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Andrew Hore and Cory Jane, each of them rated in the top line of exciting, internationally accomplished players in their positions. Any team based around this group must be formidable indeed.
    It's a well-balanced squad with forwards capable of winning a surfeit of possession and backs who can cut any defence.
    Perhaps this will be they year they win the championship for the first time. How appropriate that would be with Colin Cooper retiring as head coach at the end of the Super 14 after having coached the Hurricanes since 2003.

    Strengths: The team structures are tried and tested and the systems Colin Cooper has in place facilitate a winning game plan. The pack is powerful and mobile, with dynamic ball-carrying loose forwards, and the midfield combination of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith is amongst the most penetrative in world rugby. To keep them at bay for 80 minutes demands the tightest defence of every opposition team. Rodney So'oialo can be relied on to make a giant contribution in every game, demanding attention from more than a handful of defenders.

    Weaknesses: Inconsistency may let them down. Defensive errors have cost them dearly on occasion. Getting close to the title but not winning the championship threatens to become habitual - losing the big play-off games (three in four years) has been very disappointing.

    Noteworthy signings: No major acquisitions - unless of course a few of the talented younger players new to the Hurricanes use this opportunity to show they are ready for the big stage. Canterbury's 24-year old Michael Paterson is an option at six or lock. Prop Anthony Perenise, drafted to the Highlanders for 2009, is back. With Alby Mathewson now at the Blues, an experienced back-up to Piri Weepu was needed and Tyson Keats (three caps for the Crusaders last year) will fill that role. 22-year old lock James Broadhurst (from the Crusaders 2009 wider group) is a real prospect, over 2-metres tall and athletic.

    Noteworthy losses: Tight-head Tim Fairbrother to the Western Force; new All Black wing Zac Guildford to the Crusaders; Wellington halfback Alby Mathewson to the Blues. Injured: Wellington lock Jeremy Thrush (shoulder), lock/flank Api Naikatini (broken arm) and Hawke's Bay 2009 All Black lock Bryn Evans (back surgery).

    Coach: This is Colin Cooper's swansong season. He says having been away from his family for the last nine years has been hard on them and him, and he will resume his old role as Taranaki head coach in 2011, allowing him to spend more time at home. He has become an icon in Wellington and his players will be motivated to perform as never before in this year's Super 14.

    Captain: Rodney So'oialo was reappointed Hurricanes captain for 2010 but in late January asked to stand down in order to focus on his own loose forward game and in an endeavour to extend his playing career. Appointed captain in succession to Tana Umaga in 2006, he led the team in 49 games. With 62 Test and 76 Super caps, So'oialo is one of the longest-serving New Zealand Super rugby players, having debuted for the Hurricanes in 2001 and for the All Blacks in 2002. Hooker Andrew Hore, a 31-year old All Black with 47 Test caps, was appointed to succeed him despite never having led a team at first-class level. Like So'oialo, he made his Super debut in 2001 and played his first Test in 2002.

    Potential bolter: 2009 IRB U20 Player of the Year Aaron Cruden gave a display of skill and vision in leading New Zealand U20 to junior world championship semi-final and final victories which had him immediately marked as a future superstar. Scoring two tries in two minutes in the semi-final, and then in the final scoring two tries and setting up another three, he showed remarkable flair, composure and leadership. He had to endure a course of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with testicular cancer in August 2008, but with the cancer in remission, he returned to rugby and set the U20 tournament on fire. He is already being spoken of as New Zealand's successor to Fox, Mehrtens and Carter - extraordinary expectations for one so young.

    2009 Position: 3rd (lost to Chiefs in semi-final)
    Best finish: 2nd (beaten finalists) in 2006, 3rd in Super 12 in 1997 and 2003
    Worst finish: 11th in Super 12 in 2004
    Home Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington (capacity 34,500)

    2010 Prospects: They should be strongly in the picture towards the end of the tournament, serious contenders for a semi-final spot at least.

    Hurricanes squad: John Schwalger, Jacob Ellison, Neemia Tialata, Anthony Perenise, Andrew Hore, Dane Coles, Jeremy Thrush, Bryn Evans, James Broadhurst, Jason Eaton, Michael Paterson, Victor Vito, Karl Lowe, Scott Waldrom, Rodney So'oialo, Nick Crosswell, Piri Weepu, Tyson Keats, Aaron Cruden, Willie Ripia, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Jason Kawau, Tamati Ellison, David Smith, Hosea Gear, Andre Taylor, Cory Jane.

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    "Remember lads, rugby is a team game; all 14 of you make sure you pass the ball to ..........."

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    its really nice post

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    none of the NZ teams have had the honour of propping up the ladder? That says volumes about their player pool depth!
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