When I've been putting these Super Rugby thingy ma jigs together, clear angles have emerged with both the Auckland Blues and the Waikato Chiefs, but the Wellington Hurricanes are pretty boring really. For a team with a fair amount of talent they haven't really been able to cut through the clutter as they finished behind the Canterbury Crusaders, the Chiefs and the Otago Highlanders last season which was probably a fair assessment of the windy folk.
I feel like the Hurricanes are always a team to watch out for as a group who could take the competition and dismantle the whole thing. They have the potential to do that, but they could equally be as likely to be the team that most kiwi fans simply ignore because they're just meh, which is a bit of a worry when you look at their back line. No team with TJ Perenara, Beaden Barrett, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Julian Savea and Corey Jane should have the word meh, mentioned in the same sentence, but the meh potential is certainly there.
Hurricanes fans (aka windy folk) will hope that the people who are making the decisions know what they're doing because they have the man who led the Wellington Lions through a terrible ITM Cup season at the helm. Chris Boyd was hired before that shit ITM Cup season, so fair play that he's still the Hurricanes coach but I think this is going to work in their favour as he will be eager to make sure everything is above board.
It shouldn't take too much from Boyd to get this back line firing and with Nonu returning to the capital I reckon they'll be back on their super duper midfield combo buzz. Smith and Nonu have that freakish connection and in a sense they are the perfect midfield which when mixed in with Barrett and Perenara forms the core of the Hurricanes attack.
We all know what these All Blacks can do, but they are all in desperate need of a huge season. Barrett could play himself in to the 10 jersey for the All Blacks in a World Cup year, Jane has to fight off the young crop of wingers coming through and Nonu has a certain SBW blocking his path to a starting All Blacks spot. Not to mention Perenara who could play himself in to World Cup contention, I mean solidify his case while Julian Savea and Smith are the only lads with a spot semi locked in. Windy folk will be hoping that these guys all get together and agree that the best case they can put forward is a winning season where they are in the top 2 kiwi teams. Otherwise they could all be playing well but not really combining to better the team which could hurt their case given the competition for World Cup spots is huge.
The forward pack in Wellington is good enough to lay the platform that their potent back line needs, that's the key as the backs could tear anyone apart. The Hurricanes may appear like a good but not quite good enough team, but the likes of Victor Vito, Ardie Savea, Dane Coles, Owen Franks, Brad Shields and Jeremy Thrush are good enough to compete with any Super Rugby forward pack. There all upper tier Super Rugby players, but I would listen to any argument saying that they aren't quite certified All Black stars. Luckily for windy folk, this is Super Rugby and while the Hurricanes may struggle to dominate the competition's best forward packs, they'll hold their own against anyone. If they can manage to ruffle a few feathers in the process then that's a huge bonus, bring the ruckus!
There's enough depth in Wellington to ensure that they can remain competitive throughout the season. Ray Lee-Lo offers midfield cover, James Marshall offers every-where-in-the-back-line cover while Matt Proctor and Nehe Milner-Skudder are youngsters who will be keen to impress. There's plenty of battlers in the pack to keep things competitive and cover the inevitable injuries, I mean in the front row besides Coles and Franks you've got John Schwalger, Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, Motu Matu'u and Chris Eves to battle it out.
I think I have convinced myself that the Hurricanes could shake up the apple cart and go a few steps further than many expect. Sorry windy folk, your team isn't 'meh' but compared to a few other Super Rugby sides they don't quite have the variety of high class weapons to pick and choose when to deploy. I reckon the positioning of the Hurricanes top tier - very good Super Rugby players will see the Hurricanes push themselves in to contention for the number one seed in Aotearoa. These players have plenty to play for, but the key will be whether the Hurricanes can capture the culture of the Chiefs and Crusaders. That will enable them to collectively play at a higher level, ultimately leading them to the finals.