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Brett Cameron on his All Blacks cap and his promising second stint with the Hurricanes

By Adam Julian
Brett Cameron of the Hurricanes on attack during the round eight Super Rugby Pacific match between Hurricanes and Chiefs at Sky Stadium, on April 13, 2024, in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Brett Cameron admits his solitary All Blacks Test was “a little bit out of the blue.”

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On November 3, 2018, Cameron featured off the bench in a 69-31 win over Japan in Tokyo.

Cameron had only made a single appearance in Super Rugby for the Crusaders. Seven months earlier he came off the bench in a 33-14 win over the Bulls at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.

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“Canterbury bias,” “cheap” “unworthy,” “confetti caps,” “novice All Blacks,” the team selected for that Japanese Test, antagonised critics and fans. It was also the first All Blacks lineup in 87 Tests not to feature a member of the Barrett family.

In the next two seasons Cameron only played a dozen times for the Crusaders as he struggled to usurp Richie Mo’unga (109 games, 1230 points, 92 wins) and became somewhat stigmatized for being a “one test All Black” or a “journeyman.”

“Sometimes I hear a bit of that. It lights a fire. It’s outside noise,” Cameron told RugbyPass.

In 2024 Cameron (27) has been vital in the Hurricanes best ever start to Super Rugby. The Wellington based franchise has won eight successive matches. Cameron has made six starts and scored 54 points with some pundits suggesting he’s genuine All Blacks material.

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“It’s awesome to start the way we have. Seeing the hard work over the summer transfer into good results is really rewarding,” Cameron said.

“The coaching staff have been outstanding. There’s been an extra level in detail and preparation – they’ve challenged us with different ideas and created a culture of healthy competition and care for each other.”

“On the All Blacks stuff, I’m not thinking about that. It’s one game at a time. We’ve got an awful record in Canberra, so we’ll have to be at our best to beat a good Brumbies side this Saturday.”

New head coach and former All Blacks Sevens mentor Clark Laidlaw (61 tournaments, 275-79, 15 Cup wins) has earned much acclaim for the Hurricanes resurgence.

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By contrast Tyler Bleyendaal is absent from the headlines. However, the backs and attack coach since 2020 has just signed a contract to join Irish powerhouse Leinster at the end of the season.

Bleyendaal was a three-time Canterbury NPC Premiership winning first-five who played 21 games for the Crusaders and 62 games for Munster.

“Tyler has an amazing rugby brain, which was evident in his playing days and has carried on into his coaching. He’s got lots of ideas and adds details to them. He’s been great for me to feed off,” Cameron said.

“The biggest change for me has been really nailing the first part of the week and then being able to have the confidence to play freely. Having a good look at footage, talking it through more thoroughly, and being consistent in my routines is really important.

“Losing Cam Roigard was really hard for the boys. When you see any player on the top of their game get an injury like that you really feel for them. We’re so privileged to have TJ Perenara, the most capped Hurricane of all time as his replacement. Our mentality is the next guy up is ready.

Cameron believes the Hurricanes 47-12 demolition of the Highlanders in Dunedin on March 30 was their best performance. Last week’s 38-15 victory over the Fijian Dura comes a close second.

“Though I didn’t play, the win in Fiji against the Dura was no mean feat. The boys really fronted on defense and Aidan Morgan was outstanding after that nasty cut.”

The Hurricanes victory was their 230th in 400 matches (399 Super fixtures and a 31-31 draw against the 2017 British & Irish Lions).

The Fijian Drua lost for the first time at home this year after winning their last six matches in a row at home venues. The sequence had started last year with a 27-24 win against the Hurricanes in Suva.

Remarkably, three Hurricanes players were issued with yellow cards: Du’Plessis Kirifi, Isaia Walker-Leawere and Caleb Delany. This has happened twice before. In the 2009 match against the Bulls at Wellington, Jason Eaton, Ma’a Nonu and Scott Waldrom all received a yellow card. The second time was during the match against the Stormers at Cape Town in 2012: Ben May, Tristan Moran (on debut) and Jeffery To’omaga-Allen were the recipients in that match.

The Hurricanes lost both matches: 14-19 to the Bulls and 26-39 against the Stormers respectively.

The Hurricanes are now two wins away from equalling their record run of consecutive victories. In 2016 they won their last eight matches and the first two of 2017 and in 2018 they had a sequence of 10 wins on the trot.

Those statistics are a far cry from Manawatu in the NPC. In 2022 the Turbos lost every game in a season for the first time since 1919, and stretched that losing streak to 17 successive matches in 2023. Cameron is first-five and outstanding Hurricanes No.8 Braydon Iose is Manawatu captain.

“It can be tough getting the boys up when you keep losing but the younger players in the group look up to the leaders. You have to stay positive and keep your standards high,” Cameron said.

A decade ago, Cameron was something of a prodigy. Perhaps things appeared to come a little easier. He burst onto the national radar in 2014 when he was plucked from Wanganui’s small Cullinane College and named in the New Zealand Secondary Schools training squad.

The all-round sportsman was already well known in Wanganui. He played rugby for Wanganui at Under 16, 18 and 19 levels. In 2013 he was selected for the New Zealand Under-17 cricket team having captained Central Districts at age group level for two years.

In 2014 he was the College’s touch and athletics captain and member of the First XV rugby and First XI cricket teams and attended a Hurricanes Under 18 camp. After school Cameron headed south to Lincoln University and into the Canterbury NPC team.

Cameron reached a half century of games for Lincoln and won four senior club championships.  With Canterbury he played 44 games (31 wins) and scored 354 points winning an NPC Premiership in 2017.

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D
Diarmid 11 hours ago
Players and referees must cut out worrying trend in rugby – Andy Goode

The guy had just beasted himself in a scrum and the blood hadn't yet returned to his head when he was pushed into a team mate. He took his weight off his left foot precisely at the moment he was shoved and dropped to the floor when seemingly trying to avoid stepping on Hyron Andrews’ foot. I don't think he was trying to milk a penalty, I think he was knackered but still switched on enough to avoid planting 120kgs on the dorsum of his second row’s foot. To effectively “police” such incidents with a (noble) view to eradicating play acting in rugby, yet more video would need to be reviewed in real time, which is not in the interest of the game as a sporting spectacle. I would far rather see Farrell penalised for interfering with the refereeing of the game. Perhaps he was right to be frustrated, he was much closer to the action than the only camera angle I've seen, however his vocal objection to Rodd’s falling over doesn't legitimately fall into the captain's role as the mouthpiece of his team - he should have kept his frustration to himself, that's one of the pillars of rugby union. I appreciate that he was within his rights to communicate with the referee as captain but he didn't do this, he moaned and attempted to sway the decision by directing his complaint to the player rather than the ref. Rugby needs to look closely at the message it wants to send to young players and amateur grassroots rugby. The best way to do this would be to apply the laws as they are written and edit them where the written laws no longer apply. If this means deleting laws such as ‘the put in to the scrum must be straight”, so be it. Likewise, if it is no longer necessary to respect the referee’s decision without questioning it or pre-emptively attempting to sway it (including by diving or by shouting and gesticulating) then this behaviour should be embraced (and commercialised). Otherwise any reference to respecting the referee should be deleted from the laws. You have to start somewhere to maintain the values of rugby and the best place to start would be giving a penalty and a warning against the offending player, followed by a yellow card the next time. People like Farrell would rapidly learn to keep quiet and let their skills do the talking.

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