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Ex-All Black Justin Marshall not ‘entirely’ sold on Hurricanes as favourites

By Finn Morton
The Hurricanes celebrate the try. Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Former All Blacks halfback Justin Marshall isn’t “entirely” convinced the table-topping Hurricanes are the favourites to take out the Super Rugby Pacific title this season.

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The Hurricanes currently occupy pole position on the ladder with a flawless 7-0 record so far, with their only blemish to date being a golden point 38-33 win over the Reds in Melbourne.

Clark Laidlaw’s men have had to do it the hard way too by overcoming some menacing challenges in the Blues, Chiefs, Melbourne Rebels and the Crusaders in Christchurch.

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What’s been especially impressive is the depth in their squad. Former Wallaby Morgan Turinui described the Canes as “a European-style team” before they faced the Highlanders.

The Hurricanes had made 14 changes to their starting side a week earlier to play the Rebels in Palmerston North and made 12 the following week to play in Dunedin.

But for all the praise and plaudits the Hurricanes have received this season, Justin Marshall isn’t sold on them being favourites. The former All Black explained why on The Breakdown this week.

“Traditionally in the past Hurricanes teams have faded a little in the last quarter (but) you can see they’re fit,” Mashall said on the Sky Sport NZ show.

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“They’ve got massive competition within the squad which I think is helping because players want to be out there – they want to be on the field playing this really exciting brand of rugby.

“Am I convinced that they are the favourites to win it? Not entirely. They are trending really well but the Chiefs on a night where they lost Anton Lienert-Brown before the game, Stevenson missing as well, and a few other things didn’t quite go their way.

Head-to-Head

Last 3 Meetings

Wins
1
Draws
0
Wins
2
Average Points scored
16
43
First try wins
100%
Home team wins
67%

“They were still in the fight, so you can still compete with this Hurricanes side as good as they’re going at the moment.”

The Hurricanes registered another statement win over Saturday with a 36-23 win over New Zealand rivals the Chiefs. It was a clinical win in front of their home fans at Sky Stadium.

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First five Damian McKenzie helped give the Chiefs the lead with 30 minutes to play, but tries to TJ Perenara, Kini Naholo and Asafo Aumua swung the fixture back the Canes’ way.

While the men from the capital were clearly thrilled with the fight after full-time, it doesn’t get any easier for them with a trip to Fiji to take on the Drua up next.

The Fijian Drua may be seventh on the ladder but they’re also undefeated from three matches at home this season, which included a thriller against the Waratahs last month.

“Well go to Fiji and win as a start off. That’s their next challenge and that’s not easy,” Marshall explained when asked what the Hurricanes need to do to prove themselves.

“Talking to Clark Laidlaw… after the game, he said that’s the game nobody really wants. I think their only saving grace is it’s in Suva rather than Lautoka which has been pretty difficult for teams to win at.

“Getting on the road, winning those games away. They just scraped in against the Crusaders who are nearly bottom of the table.

“The next few tests that they’ve got coming up will be (important).”

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