Gopperth sounds Hurricane warning

With the Super 14 reaching the half-way mark and the race for the top four spots still wide open, the Hurricanes are one team determined not to be left behind.

 

The New Zealand franchise have the players and character to go all the way – a healthy combination according to their pivot extraordinaire Jimmy Gopperth.

Hailing from New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington, the Hurricanes are certainly a team on the up after reaching the Super rugby semi-finals in 2005 and then the final a year later.

The men in yellow showed their strengths on the domestic front as well by reaching the final of the newly-sponsored Air New Zealand Cup (the old NPC), only to lose narrowly to Waikato in a pulsating game.

Gopperth played a major role in all these matches and just as the team is growing in stature, so is he as a player – something he and the Hurricanes will wish to continue with against an undefeated Sharks outfit in Durban on Saturday.

“Obviously we know their strengths, but we’ve had a good week with training,” Gopperth told this website.

“We got a lot of faith in the team and we’ve been playing pretty well. It’s going to be a good game.”

Gopperth and his Hurricanes team-mates not only face an undefeated team away from home, but also their old Wellington Lions coach in the form of John Plumtree, who moved to the Durban-based franchise after the Air New Zealand Cup final last year.

We asked if the team were not a bit concerned that Plumtree may give away a few Hurricanes secrets to his new team.

“Yeah, I’m sure he’ll try and pick out a few little tricks that we all know,” joked Gopperth.

“But it’s a game of rugby and each day is a different game. However, we are playing against a coach that formerly was our coach, so we’ll see what happens.”

Each day is indeed a different game, though it is a game that the Hurricanes will want to win after taking a bit of a stumble in their last two Super 14 match appearances.

The Stormers shocked everyone, and probably themselves, with their 30-17 hammering of the ‘Canes at New Plymouth a fortnight ago, while last week, the Western Force had to rely on a full-time conversion to capture their first home win of Super 14 rugby against the New Zealand visitors.

It was probably a case of the Hurricanes tasting a bit of their own medicine after snatching last-minute wins over the Chiefs and the Brumbies through tries by lock Paul Tito and number eight Thomas Waldrom respectively.

So the team has experienced it’s fair share of close shaves, something Gopperth is aware of but something he and his team-mates wish to rectify.

“We haven’t been as good as we should be,” admitted the Hurricanes star.

“But you know, there’s still a lot more games. The team is just building and building to that big performance.

“With those close ones, a few years ago we would not have won them. We were unlucky last week to lose that close one (against the Force).

“Though it just shows the character we have and you can’t beat character in a team, so that’s improved in the Hurricanes immensely.”

Currently lying eighth on the Super 14 log and sharing the same number of points (14) with the Brumbies, Gopperth remains confident that the only way is up for him and his team as they prepare for their two-match tour of South Africa.

“If you look at the log, it’s only a couple of points in between each team. So anything can happen, it’s still a long way to go,” said Gopperth.

“We got a few home games left, which is always good. We know we have a couple of key matches this week and next week on our South African trip, but things are looking pretty good!”

Another thing looking pretty good is Gopperth’s performances in the number 10 jersey for the ‘Canes. Gopperth has made 33 appearances in the famous yellow strip and his commitment and value to

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