McCaw issues Hurricane warning

All Black and Crusaders captain Richard McCaw has issued a Hurricane warning. The superstar loose forward said the Hurricanes’ lowly eighth place on the Super 14 standings is no indication of the threat they pose to the table-topping Crusaders.

Speaking in an interview on the Crusaders’ website McCaw said the ‘Canes will pose a “huge threat” when the two sides go head-to-head in a Friday blockbuster at Jade Stadium in Christchurch.

McCaw used the Hurricanes only win in Super Rugby at Jade Stadium, back in 2001, as an example of just how dangerous the Wellington-based outfit can be.

The Crusaders suffered a 29-41 (two tries to five) hammering at the hands of the Hurricanes six years ago – which ironically was the game in which McCaw made his Super Rugby debut.

He readily admits it is not a game he remembers with any particular fondness.

That match might have been six years ago, and the Hurricanes might not have won from five subsequent trips to Christchurch, but it is a memory that McCaw still believes has relevance looking ahead to this Friday’s Jade Stadium showdown.

“The Hurricanes are a huge threat all over the field, the same now as they were back then,” McCaw said in the interview on the Crusaders website.

“They just smashed us in that particular game all over the park. Their side of that year had dangerous ball runners like Christian Cullen and Jonah Lomu, and the current team is not too different. It’s going to be a huge game for us.”

The Hurricanes of 2001 ventured south with a not too dis-similar record to that of this year’s outfit.

While they were still in the semi-final hunt, as are this year’s ‘Canes class, they arrived having dropped their previous three matches, and with their backs firmly against the wall.

That encouraged a carefree attacking approach, and it worked spectacularly, with the Hurricanes scoring five tries to two. Cullen supplied two, having also bagged a pair on the only other occasion that the Canes avoided defeat at Jade – during 1999’s 18-18 draw.

Lomu, Tana Umaga, who will be back on Friday, and Paul Steinmetz also collected five-pointers during the Hurricanes’ only success on Crusaders’ soil.

If the visitors are to repeat that success this year, they will need to give the ball plenty of air to get their dangerous ball carriers into the game.

History suggests that the Hurricanes are going to really hurt an unfortunate opponent at some stage when they do, so the Crusaders are going to have to repeat their excellent defensive work of recent weeks in order to ensure that the ‘Canes are not allowed to make the quick off-loads they seek.

Although Colin Cooper’s side have been down on tries this season, they will arrive in Christchurch coming back into form, having claimed just their second try-scoring bonus point of the competition during last Friday’s 37-15 conquest of the Cheetahs.

A first ever ‘Grand Slam’ of the New Zealand leg of the competition still beckons for the Hurricanes, with the team already having accounted for the Blues (23-22) and Chiefs (39-32) thus far in 2007.

 

365 Digital

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