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Brayden Iose to force 'massive decisions' from Hurricanes coaches

By Tom Vinicombe
Brayden Iose. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

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Jason Holland has some “massive decisions” to make ahead of next weekend’s tussle with the Highlanders in Wellington.

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The Hurricanes will return to New Zealand’s capital following two matches in Dunedin – a win and a loss – and some strong performances in the latter game, in particular, could have a big influence on how Holland’s charges line up against the Highlanders.

The Hurricanes’ bench added significant impetus in the late stages of their matches against the Crusaders and Blues, helping the side to score a come-from-behind 33-32 win over the Aucklanders on Saturday evening.

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Pablo Matera explains his move to the Crusaders.
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Pablo Matera explains his move to the Crusaders.

The likes of Ruben Love, Richard Judd, Ben May and Devan Flanders all contributed to the comeback but it was loose forward Brayden Iose who was perhaps the most impressive ‘finisher’, with the 23-year-old running amok like an bucking bronco late in the piece.

Iose helped to generate plenty of momentum on attack for the Hurricanes – something they’d struggled to do earlier in the game. It was another big innings from the loosie after also standing out against the Crusaders in Round 1 and Holland will now have to make a call whether the seemingly specialist impact player deserves a go in the run-on side. With the likes of Ardie Savea, Du’Plessis Kirifi and Devan Flanders also all impressing over the first two weeks, that won’t be an easy task for Holland and his assistants.

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“He’s been outstanding for the last two weeks off the bench,” Holland said of Iose. “He provides that pace and power. He’s an outstanding bench player at the moment for us. He’s putting massive pressure on our backrow. We’ve got some massive decisions [to make].

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“I thought Devan Flanders, for the 11 minutes he was on, was outstanding as well. Yeah, both of them are going really well. Obviously Ards is there and playing well and Reedo [Reed Prinsep] got through a power of work and Blake [Gibson] has got through the first 45 minutes for a year or so since he played footy and we’ve got Dupes and TK Howden at home so we’ve got some really good choices there, we’ve just got to figure out what the best approach is.

“Brayden came on and changed the game a little bit today with his carries so we’ll find out the best way to win a game of footy.”

It wasn’t solely the bench that impressed, however, with left winger Salesi Rayasi bagging a hat-trick in his first game of the season – not that Holland noticed.

“Did he [get three tries]? I thought he only got two,” Holland said. “We know what he can do with the ball, we know he’s quick. It was a good outing for him.

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“He’ll just keep working away and he’ll keep getting better and better at the small parts of the game and get him finishing three tries every week and everyone’s happy.”

Rayasi is competing with the likes of Wes Goosen, Julian Savea and Baily Sullivan for a spot on the wing, with all three of those players also showing off their worth against the Blues.

With a long season ahead, that entire group will undoubtedly all get ample opportunities throughout the Hurricanes’ campaign – but Rayasi may well have one hand on a starting spot after his excellent work on attack.

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