Hurricanes hope All Blacks will commit
June 21, 2011
Jane has been linked with the Western Force to replace James O'Connor © Getty Images
The Hurricanes are hoping to give their fans reason to cheer after a disappointing Super Rugby season by re-signing four of their out-of-contract All Blacks.
Hurricanes' CEO James Te Puni is confident that New Zealand international's Hosea Gear, Piri Weepu, Cory Jane and Aaron Cruden will all put pen to paper at the end of a troubled campaign for the franchise that saw them finish 9th in the overall standings.
"We're keen to retain all four of them," Tu Puni told the Dominion Post. "I'm happy that Mark (Hammett) and the other coaching staff have progressed things pretty positively with these guys."
Cruden has been strongly linked with the Chiefs to replace outgoing Stephen Donald while Jane has been lined-up to replace the Western Force's departing superstar James O'Connor. Cruden's rumour holds special provenance as he is familiar to the Chiefs' new head coach Dave Rennie as the pair worked together at Manawatu and with the New Zealand U20s.
Fellow All Blacks Ma'a Nonu and Andrew Hore have already been shown the Wellington exit door, while Conrad Smith and Victor Vito have opted to re-sign with the franchise. They join lock James Broadhurst, prop Ben May and centre Charlie Ngatai in recommitting to the Hurricanes for the 2011-12 Super Rugby season.
After notching just five victories this season, Te Puni and the coaching staff will now conduct one-on-one interviews with the Hurricanes players. "Every single member of the Hurricanes squad has got a meeting with the coaches this week. It's happening at every franchise, the end-of-season reviews," Te Puni said. "The guys we are involved in conversations with about staying, they will be speaking with the coaches in the course of the next few days."
The Hurricanes will have to replace the outgoing players with new talent, but Te Puni is committed to looking closer to home rather than exploring overseas options. "We could easily tap offshore as a first port of call but we're not interested in doing that," he said. "This is where we want to see our Hurricanes coming from, the likes of Wellington, Taranaki, Manawatu, Hawke's Bay. The players we're putting offers in front of are drawn from those areas, first and foremost."
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