THE HURRICANES are pondering plenty at training this week as they prepare to play the Sharks in New Plymouth on Friday night.
There will be one thing weighing heavily on the players’ minds ahead of the match at Yarrow Stadium: a lack of urgency and organisation both on defence and attack.
The Hurricanes’ accuracy with ball in hand will need to improve drastically to reverse a concerning inability to hold on to possession for multiple phases and thus build pressure.
“One of the things I've seen all season is our intensity at training is very high,” coach Mark Hammett told the Dominion Post.
“When you have that most of your ball carries are over the advantage line with defences going backwards, but in a game situation that's often not reality.
“Sometimes you will have rucks with negative inches or metres made. It's easy to look at the catch or pass, but it's neither of those, the boys can do that.
“It's the step before that, the urgency to reload and organise the attack when you are not going forward. That's an area we can fix.
“Maybe we've fallen into a bad habit in the games from our good habits in training.”
Ben May, the injured Victor Vito (calf) and Tim Bateman were missed on defence. May and Vito organise things around the fringes of the ruck and Bateman in the midfield.
The Sharks are a similar proposition to the Cheetahs. They have big ball-carrying forwards and speedy backs.
A failure to shut them down and shut them down well could result in another loss.
Hammett is aware of this.
“It wasn't like everyone was going high, there was a real mixture, but the urgency to organise off the ball had eased back from a strength area for us over the past five weeks,” says Hammett of last weekend’s defensive frailties.
“We know we can do it and we know what needs to be done.”
May, Vito and Bateman should be back this weekend. Likewise lock Jason Eaton who missed the Cheetahs game with a back complaint.
“Jason seemed pretty good today, so he should be fine,” says Hammett.
“Victor has done a hard session and he will probably take it easy this week, but I'd say [he'll be OK]. We'll have a better idea on Wednesday.”
The only injury concern is Brad Shields, who has a shoulder problem and is unlikely to play.
The Hurricanes name their side tomorrow, before heading to New Plymouth on Thursday.« Back to Articles
With the series level, expect both teams to put it all on the line as they seek to win the deciding test in Sydney on Saturday night.