The Hurricanes started the defence of their title in style when they thrashed the Sunwolves 83-17 in Tokyo on Saturday.
The defending champions were full value for their win as the Sunwolves had no answer to their power and strength and the men from Wellington eventually outscored their hapless hosts by 13 tries to three.
It was a one-sided performance from the Hurricanes who made a very big statement to their rivals for the title about their intentions in 2017.
The Sunwolves were under the cosh for the full 80 minutes and although they tried gallantly throughout, they could not match the intensity levels and execution of their more illustrious opponents.
It was one-way traffic from the opening whistle and the Hurricanes scored four unanswered tries inside the opening quarter.
Ardie Savea got two of those, the first coming in the sixth minute after his brother, Julian, laid the groundwork with a trademark run in the build-up.
A minute later, Vince Aso – who was a late addition to the starting line-up after Cory Jane withdrew through injury at the captain’s run – went over for a try after gathering his own chip kick down the right-hand touchline.
Savea’s second try followed two minutes later before Ricky Riccitelli scored the champions’ fourth try after running onto a pass from Julian Savea at close quarters in the 13th minute.
Otere Black converted two of those tries which meant the Hurricanes were cruising with the score at 24-0 after a mere 15 minutes.
The Hurricanes continued to dominate as the half progressed and TJ Perenara, Ngani Laumape and Julian Savea also crossed for tries before the break, with Savea’s effort the best of the lot.
The burly All Black gathered a cross-field kick from Black, just outside his 22, and bumped off two tacklers in typical fashion and then outpaced the cover defence before diving over.
The Sunwolves’ best moment of the opening half came in the 34th minute when Riaan Viljoen crossed for their first try after gathering an inside pass from Kenki Fukuoka close to the visitors’ try-line.
By half-time, the Hurricanes were cruising with the score at 45-5 and they continued to dominate after the break.
The one-sided nature continued during the opening 20 minutes of the second half with Blade Thomson, Michael Fatialofa (2), Aso, Brad Shields and Wes Goosen all getting over for deserved tries.
Shields’ effort in the 49th minute seemed to knock the wind out of the Sunwolves’ sails as he intercepted a Shota Horie pass close to his try-line before running the length of the field to score his five-pointer.
And by the time Goosen crossed for his try in the 60th minute, the Hurricanes were in total control with the score at 83-5.
But to their credit, the Sunwolves did not surrender and Shokei Kin and Willie Britz crossed for consolation tries which added some respectability to the final score.
Sunwolves – 17
Tries: Riaan Viljoen, Shokei Kin, Willie Britz
Conversions: Timothy Lafaele
Hurricanes – 83
Tries: Ardie Savea x2 , Vince Aso x2, Michael Fatialofa x2, Ricky Riccitelli, TJ Perenara, Julian Savea, Ngani Laumape, Blade Thomson, Brad Shields, Wes Goosen
Conversions: Otere Black x9
Yellow Card: Fatialofa
Sunwolves: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Hikaru Tamura, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willem Britz, 7 Edward Quirk, 6 Malgene Ilaua, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Heiichiro Ito, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Masataka Mikami
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Hino, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Kotaro Yatabe, 20 Shokei Kin, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Ryohei Yamanaka, 23 Shota Emi
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Vince Aso, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Otere Black, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Jeffery To’omaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Chris Eves
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ben May, 18 Mike Kainga, 19 Reed Prinsep, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Wes Goosen
Referee: Egon Seconds (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Akihisa Aso (Japan)
TMO: Minoru Fuji (Japan)