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Hurricanes' explosive No 8's journey through injury battles to become Crusader killer

By Adam Julian
Brayden Iose of the Hurricanes during the round 15 Super Rugby Pacific match between Hurricanes and Crusaders at Sky Stadium, on June 03, 2023, in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Masanori Udagawa/Getty Images)

Brayden Iose laughs he has a better relationship with the Hurricanes physiotherapists than his teammates.

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Serious injuries to a hip, wrist, and both knees’ have side-lined Iose for extensive chunks of his professional career. He missed the whole of 2018 injured and last year was restricted to just six appearances for the Hurricanes.

On Saturday, Iose scored the game-winning try against the Crusaders. With seven minutes remaining, and the Hurricanes only leading 22-19, he fended off Scott Barrett and Joel Lam in a scintillating 25m burst off the back of a scrum.

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“We got a good hit in the scrum and remained stable, so I had a good picture of where to go and what to do next,” Iose told RugbyPass.

“I was pretty excited when I saw the space down the short side. Having a crack and expressing myself is the way I like to play the game. I never thought, ‘we’ve got them’, after the rush of the try, it was about the next job.”

Iose was earmarked early to deliver moments of exceptional mental clarity and athleticism. He captained the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ in 2016 but until this season has struggled to settle in Super Rugby.

Iose joined the Hurricanes in 2018 and has only managed 11 games until 2022. This year he’s made 13 appearances, including a handful of starts.

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“She’s been pretty tough with all the injuries. I owe LeeVan Santos and Nicole Armstrong a lot. They’ve been amazing with their patience and my rehabbing.

“Recovery, routine, and how you fuel your body is super important. I’ve also picked up a few tips from older guys about how to manage consistent injuries. These things might not save you, but they help a young fella reduce risk and come back stronger.”

In April, Iose scored two tries in a 45-35 victory against the Force in his hometown of Palmerston North. In May against the Chiefs, his startling turn of pace saw him score a try after an intercept at halfway.

The Hurricanes rallied from a 19-3 deficit against the Crusaders. Iose was yellow-carded for a shoulder-to-head tackle in the first half that was considered for a red upgrade.

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“That was anxious. There was no malice in it, but I got my technique and timing wrong,” Iose admitted.

“Tevita Mafileo chopped at the legs, and I didn’t adequately adjust the height in time. It all happened very quickly. I was doing cartwheels when I was told it wasn’t red. I wanted to come back on and contribute positively,”

Vintage fire from Dane Coles in his final match in Wellington also helped the Hurricanes.

“Colsey brings so much edge and niggle. He’s inspirational for all the boys. His critical thinking and experienced advice are awesome too,” Iose said.

The Hurricanes second half was easily their best display of the season albeit in a fixture that didn’t prevent the Crusaders from hosting a quarterfinal.

The Hurricanes scored more tries (70) than any team in the round-robin but were frustratingly inconsistent at times with a shock loss to Fijian Dura as well as comprehensive setbacks to the Chiefs and Blues (twice). What do the Hurricanes look like at their best?

“Hurricanes rugby is exciting and about playing at a fast tempo and really nailing the physical aspect. If we do that everything flows from there and we feel like we can go toe to toe with anyone,” Iose responded.

“I don’t try and think about individual battles. I focus internally on what I need to do and how I can contribute collectively. I think our loose forwards complement each other. We’ve got a lot of healthy competition.”

The Hurricanes travel to GIO Stadium in Canberra to play the Brumbies in the 4 v 5 quarter-final on Saturday. The Brumbies eliminated the Hurricanes in the corresponding fixture last year and Iose predicts a tough encounter.

“The Brumbies kicking game and maul is exceptional. We’ll have to be smart about how we defend the maul and accurate in our exits and moments we choose to attack.”

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