'It's important you don't go over there and overplay': Jason Holland backing rookie first five to lead the Hurricanes to victory
While the Hurricanes have had to deal with their fair share of injury issues this year, they’ve got a relatively clean bill of health heading into the final weeks of their Super Rugby Trans-Tasman campaign.
Ardie Savea is back in the run-on side having made his first return to action last weekend after suffering a knee injury during the Super Rugby Aotearoa season. Dane Coles is also back on deck while there’s simply no room this week for the likes of All Blacks Peter Umaga-Jensen and Vaea Fifita.
Love was initially touted to make an impact in the outside backs for the Hurricanes when he was named in the squad late last year but the 20-year-old has quickly made an impact at first receiver, combining well with Jordie Barrett at fullback.
Despite spending a bit of time in the No 10 jersey as a youngster, that’s not where he’s focussed his development in recent times, mainly featuring at the back of the park.
In his limited appearances to date for the Hurricanes, however, he’s looked right at home at first five-eighth and his development into the potential long-term successor to Beauden Barrett will take another step forward when he lines up to oppose Brumbies star Noah Lolesio.
Love has spent the past two weeks sidelined due to concussion and a mild shoulder injury but despite being fit and ready for this weekend, he still wasn’t an obvious selection for Hurricanes coach Jason Holland, with Orybn Leger looking steady in Love’s absence.
“I will say that was a tough decision as well because I thought Orbyn played really well last week,” Holland said following Thursday’s team naming. “But Rubes gets an opportunity and he’s growing every day.
Holland hasn’t lumped too much pressure on the returning 20-year-old, however, and suggested that he and his teammates can get the job done if they don’t get too carried away with trying to do too much too early.
“We’ve got a pretty simple plan around how we need to play over there to win and he’s really nailed onto it and just led a pretty good meeting around what we’re trying to do,” said Holland.
“It’s important you don’t go over there and overplay too early. We’ve got to be smart around getting into the game and make sure we’re not too frivolous, I suppose, early – especially at our own end. He’s got a real clear understanding how we want to play and we just want him to free up and be able to do the simple things but when he sees an opportunity, back him to have a crack.”
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While the Hurricanes are optimistic about their current fortunes – currently on track to make the Trans-Tasman play-offs, Holland has quashed any suggestions that the team is looking too far into the future.
“The boys are nice and positive but we’ve kept that in check,” he said. “We’ve just got to look at it week to week. Honestly, that’s how we’ve looked at it. No one’s talked around next week or anything that could happen after that.
“We’re just talking around what we’ve got to do to perform to get the points and to be honest, we don’t talk too much around bonus points either. We’ve been talking around what our performance needs to look like to get a victory and that won’t change. If we go in with anything other than a mindset of our performance over there, we’re going to get a fright. We know what’s required. Hopefully, the points or whatever comes and takes care of itself.”
While the Brumbies are yet to record a win in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, they were finalists in the AU competition and have won four of their last five encounters with the Hurricanes in Canberra.
Tellingly, the Hurricanes have won by three or more tries (i.e. the criteria to secure a winning bonus point) just once in Canberra, in 2008, and just six times overall in their 26 encounters.
Saturday evening’s match is set to kick off at 7:45pm AEST.
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