Hurricanes to emphasise tight five
May 10, 2013
Coenie Oosthuizen and the Cheetahs will target the Hurricanes' tight five © Getty Images
The Hurricanes are determined to put behind them the embarrassment of their performance against the Bulls when they take on the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday.
There have been plenty of frank discussions in the aftermath of the 48-14 defeat in Pretoria, and prop Ben May, who has been recalled to the starting XV in place of Jeff Toomaga-Allen, is confident the attitudes and the physicality needed against the Cheetahs will be there this weekend. "There's been a big emphasis on the tight five and the forwards getting a platform this week," the experienced tight-head prop said. "Also earning the right to play, we've got to be direct again. The umbrella defence that the South Africans have, you've got to earn the right to play those wide channels. Last week was pretty tough. It was a tough pill to swallow. We've worked bloody hard this week. We're ready to go. There's been some pretty stern words spoken throughout the week. I think we'll be good to go come [Friday]."
The inclusion of Faifili Levave and Jack Lam - for Brad Shields and Karl Lowe - in the loose forwards will help to bring the physical edge for which the Hurricanes coaches are looking.
"Faifili when he came on [against the Bulls], like Jack Lam, they offered a bit of physical edge at the time. They've been rewarded for that," assistant coach Alama Ieremia said. "Brad has obviously played a lot of minutes this year so we've got to make sure we look after him as well. For this game we need all guns blazing and we feel these are the boys that can do the job for us."
The onus is also on the players to keep things simple and play rugby in the right areas of the field - something they definitely didn't do against the Bulls, who scored two intercept tries early.
"We've told the boys this week we're playing simple rugby, backing our long kicking skills and making the most of this altitude," first five-eighth Beauden Barrett said. "Last week we found ourselves stuck in our own half a bit too much trying to play with the limited ball we had."
Barrett resumes his partnership with second-five Tim Bateman this week but Reynold Lee-Lo will make his first start for the side in place of injured skipper Conrad Smith. The inclusion of Lee-Lo was seen as less disruptive than shifting Alapati Leiua from the wing to centre. "The combination of having Rey there with Timmy, who have played together before, is probably a lot more settled in terms of preparation as it's a short week," Ieremia said. "So there's less disruption but also it's an opportunity for Rey who brings a bit of physicality to the team as well."
Given the success the Stormers and the Bulls have had against the Hurricanes' set-piece in the past two weeks, it is no surprise that Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske has stated publicly that his side will target the area. But the Cheetahs are also a team that has prospered by attacking with ball in hand, earning seven wins in 10 games, and Ieremia expects that won't change in Bloemfontein. "We've just got to make sure that we cope with both of those [scenarios]. They are a team that's on a high and with the bye they would have freshened up. We're certainly looking forward to that challenge."
Hurricanes: Hurricanes: Andre Taylor/James Marshall; Alapati Leiua, Reynold Lee-Lo, Tim Bateman, Julian Savea; Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara; Victor Vito (captain), Jack Lam/Karl Lowe, Faifili Levave; Jason Eaton, Jeremy Thrush; Ben May, Ash Dixon, Ben Franks. Replacements: Reggie Goodes, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, James Broadhurst, Brad Shields, Chris Smylie, Tusi Pisi, James Marshall/Karl Lowe.