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Where does this Hurricanes side rank among the franchise's all-time teams

By Ben Smith
(Photos by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images and by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The 2024 Hurricanes won’t become the first team in Super Rugby history to put forth an undefeated season, but they may just become the best Hurricanes team in franchise history.


There are three other vintages of the Canes that are in the conversation as best ever, the 2006, 2015 and 2016 teams.

The 2016 championship team had eight All Blacks starting in the run-on XV including Beauden Barrett and Ardie Savea, and two further internationals in Brad Shields (England) and Willis Halaholo (Wales).

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They had future Irish international Jamison Gibson-Park on the bench, along with another All Black in Julian Savea.

After going 11-4 in the regular season to secure the number one seed, they ran through Sharks, Chiefs and Lions to claim the title.

However, there were three other New Zealand teams who also finished with an 11-4 record that season, the Highlanders, Crusaders, and Chiefs.

By a whisker the Hurricanes claimed the top spot on bonus points. Due to the deluded conference system, the other teams had to go on the road for the playoffs and the Hurricanes had a distinct advantage which proved vital.


The Hurricanes vintage of 2015 was arguably a better side. They went 14-2 in the regular season and were undisputedly the best side in the competition.

They had the all-time midfield combination of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith, while Nehe Milner-Skudder was on one wing in the form of his life and Julian Savea was still the starter on the left.

Nonu and Smith departed New Zealand after 2015 while in 2016 Milner-Skudder was injured down the stretch and Savea had dropped out of the starting team.

Of course, the 2015 side fell to the Highlanders at the final hurdle and didn’t get the job done, but finished with a 16-3 overall record compared to 14-4 held by the 2016 team.


The 2006 team coached by Colin Cooper is only other Hurricanes side to make the final.

They finished with a 10-3 record, enough for second place on the ladder behind the 11-1-1 Crusaders. The two teams would met in the ‘fog final’, one of Super Rugby’s biggest atrocities.

We were hardly able to see the action as the Crusaders secured the title by 19-12.

The Hurricanes backline was stacked with All Blacks, Isaia Toeava at fullback, Tana Umaga and Ma’a Nonu in the midfield, Piri Weepu at halfback. A young Tamati Ellison sat on the bench. Samoan international winger Lome Fa’atau bagged 10 tries to led the competition that year.

The late Jerry Collins and Rodney So’oialo led the backrow. They were the best ever Hurricanes side until 2015.

The 2024 Hurricanes currently are 9-1 and sit in pole position as we enter the final stretch of the season. They are one competition point ahead of the Blues and this week’s clash will prove decisive for the final standings.

This vintage of the Hurricanes doesn’t have as many established All Blacks as the great sides of the past, but that is expected to change over the coming years.

It’s no surprise that this Hurricanes side are proving to be strong after Wellington captured the NPC title in 2022 with many of these players.

The team that beat Canterbury in the final had TJ Perenara, Riley Higgins, Billy Proctor, Julian Savea and Ruben Love in the backline. Richard Judd and Aidan Morgan were on the bench.

Up front they had Peter Lakai, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Caleb Delany, Asafo Aumua and Xavier Numia wth James O’Reilly in the reserves.

The Hurricanes have the Wellington 2022 championship core scattered with many from both NPC finalists in 2023, Taranaki and Hawkes Bay.

The depth of the 2024 side is real weapon with the Hurricanes able to change up the entire team and still blow teams off the pitch, like the Melbourne Rebels game in round four.

They are one of the most prolific attacking sides in the competition ranking either first or second in points scored (35.8 pg), tries scored (5.1 pg), line breaks (8.1 pg), defenders beaten and offloads.

If they were to finish the season on top of the ladder with just one or two losses and go on to claim the title they would be in the debate with the 2016 team as the best ever team in club history.

If they were to stumble over the last month and lose the number one seed, but still go on to win the title, they would fall short of the 2016 side but enter Hurricanes folklore.

They could completely surpass the 2016 side if they were able to win back-to-back titles this year and next, which the club has never done. That’s obviously way too far ahead for now.

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Sam T 75 days ago

One overlooked statistic from their 2016 winning season is the Huricanes are still the only team in Super rugby history not to concede a try during the playoff rounds.

Nickers 75 days ago

2015 was by far the best team. They have had many good backlines over the years but the 2015 team was one of the few to have an absolute world class forward pack - all of them international quality. 6 ABs, 1 future English player, and one that would have gone on to ABs had he not been forced to retire due to concussion.

This current team doesn’t have the same size and experience at lock, but providing they can keep this many talented young players (who have all significantly increased their profile this year) together for another 2 years they could eclipse the 2015 team.

PK 75 days ago

Just celebrating the Bok’s 1648th consecutive day as RWC champions. They are also the Qatar Airways Cup winners, which I know BennieBoy cares about a lot.

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