Quarter-final to be dewy, not dour, in Canberra

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

It’s going to be dewy but Hurricanes skipper TJ Perenara isn’t expecting a sudden-death slogfest in Friday night’s quarter-final.

The Hurricanes and Brumbies are the two best defensive sides in the competition this season, though the Hurricanes blitzed the Canberrans with a second-half flurry in Napier in their only meeting this year.

Though the Brumbies rely heavily on set piece, halfback Perenara said he didn’t think they would move to slow down proceedings in the knockout clash.

“I don't think they see speed of game as a weakness for them,” he said.

“I think if you watch their games of late when the ball's in play they look pretty good too.”

The Hurricanes saw that first hand when trailing the Brumbies at half-time in that clash, with a spectacular Joe Powell the highlight of the first 40.

New Zealand teams haven’t lost to Aussies at Test or Super Rugby level since May last year, but Perenara said reputation would mean little.

“I always remember 2015, everyone was writing off the Aussie rugby team and they made the World Cup final, everyone was saying it's the worst Aussie team that's been going around for a while,” he said.

“Those guys came in and put themselves together and they got to a World Cup final and almost won the World Cup final.

“Regardless of results this team will come together and they'll put one of the better performances of the season together.”

A tense Lions-All Blacks series was characterised by the Northerners’ rush defence that stifled the New Zealand side but Perenara said the Hurricanes would be prepared for that, should it come their way on Friday night.

“Most teams have their systems and that set in place but I do think rush defence is developing in rugby and more teams are applying it at some point in their game,” he said.

“Whether or not the Brumbies will do it as much as the Lions did it to the All Blacks, I don't know.”

While the Brumbies will have a timely emotional boost with the return of Christian Lealiifano, the Hurricanes welcome back destructive hooker Dane Coles for the first time in four months, after a long concussion lay-off.

Perenara had plenty of praise to throw on Coles, but said most of that was left unsaid in the team, the 30-year-old keen to just get back on the field.

“I don't think he knows how much he means to our environment and to the lads and to what we want to achieve,” Perenara said.

“He's just a humble man, he wants to get out there and play footy so I think the more we can not talk about it is probably better for him and what he would want.”

The Brumbies take on the Hurricanes on Friday night, kicking off at 7:35pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.