With a new skipper at the helm and game-breaking talent stacked throughout the squad, the Hurricanes will be looking to go all the way in Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021.
While the Crusaders and Blues received all the headlines and plaudits in 2020, it cannot be forgotten that the Hurricanes defeated both teams during the season – including a rare victory over the eventual champions in Christchurch and a last gasp win over the Blues at Sky Stadium.
The Hurricanes have named a largely settled squad for 2021 and will be aiming for a strong start to the season in their pursuit of a spot in the first ever Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa final.
In 2020 they dropped their first two games and then faced an uphill battle to claim the inaugural Super Rugby Aotearoa title. They ended the season in third place with five wins from eight matches. A stronger start to the season would have seen them in the title race alongside the Blues and Crusaders.
The Hurricanes have recruited well in 2021. The return of Julian ‘The Bus’ Savea and arrival of former Blues flyer Lolagi Visinia out wide has countered the departure of prolific try-scorer Ben Lam.
Halfback and first five are areas of obvious concern for the Hurricanes with TJ Perenara taking a sabbatical in Japan this season and Beauden Barrett’s departure in 2019 still leaving a gaping hole in the 10 jersey.
The inclusion of former Blues first five Simon Hickey means the Hurricanes have two dependable options in the pivot position with Jackson Garden-Bachop back in the squad in 2021.
The nine jersey is up for grabs this season with impressive Bay of Plenty halfback Luke Campbell joining the squad for the first time this year. He will battle it out for a place in the match-day 23 with the experienced Jamie Booth and live-wire Jonathan Taumateine.
Traditionally the Hurricanes Achilles hell, the front row is looking incredible strong this year with Alex Fidow, Tyrel Lomax and Tevita Mafileo all exciting prospects at prop and Dane Coles, Ricky Riccitelli and Asafo Aumua providing three international class options at hooker.
When adding in world class talent like Jordie Barrett at fullback, Ngani Laumape in the midfield and new captain Ardie Savea in the loose forwards, there is no doubting the Hurricanes have the potential to go all the way in 2021.
The elevation of Ardie Savea to skipper could be a catalyst for the Hurricanes success in 2021. If you want a captain to lead from the front and show pride in the jersey, then you will find no better than Savea. Born and raised in Wellington, Savea is a fan favourite at Sky Stadium and does everything with maximum gusto. Already a world class player, expect Savea’s game to flourish even more with the captaincy reins and for his teammates to raise their game to another level.
ROUND 1: Hurricanes v Blues, Saturday 27 February, 7.05pm, Sky Stadium
ROUND 2: Crusaders v Hurricanes, Saturday 6 March, 7.05pm, Orangetheory Stadium
ROUND 3: BYE
ROUND 4: Hurricanes v Chiefs, Saturday 20 March, 7.05pm, Sky Stadium
ROUND 5: Highlanders v Hurricanes, Friday 26 March, 7.05pm, Forsyth Barr Stadium
ROUND 6: Blues v Hurricanes, Saturday 3 April, 7.05pm, Eden Park
ROUND 7: Hurricanes v Crusaders, Sunday 11 April, 3.35pm, Sky Stadium
ROUND 8: BYE
ROUND 9: Chiefs v Hurricanes, Friday 23 April, 7.05pm, FMG Stadium Waikato
ROUND 10: Hurricanes v Highlanders, Friday 30 April, 7.05pm, Sky Stadium
Props: Pouri Rakete-Stones, Alex Fidow, Xavier Numia, Tyrel Lomax, Fraser Armstrong, Tevita Mafileo
Hookers: Ricky Riccitelli, Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles
Locks: Liam Mitchell, James Blackwell, Scott Scrafton, Kane Leaupepe, Isaia Walker Leaware
Loose forwards: Du Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Gareth Evans, Ardie Savea, Devan Flanders, Vaea Fifita, Brayden Iose
Halfbacks: Jamie Booth, Jonathan Taumateine, Luke Campbell
Inside backs: Jackson Garden Bachop, Simon Hickey
Midfield: Ngani Laumape, Billy Proctor, Vince Aso, Julian Savea
Outside backs: Salesi Rayasi, Wes Goosen, Jordie Barrett, Danny Toala, Peter Umaga Jensen, Lolagi Visinia, Ruben Love, Pepesana Patafilo