The Hurricanes shocked Super Rugby Aotearoa on Saturday with a tense 34-32 victory over the Crusaders to end a four-year, 36-match winning streak by the reigning Super Rugby champions in Christchurch.
The win has seemingly come at a cost, though, as the Wellington franchise may be without some of their top stars for the remainder of the competition.
Perhaps the most pressing concern will be the second half substitution of in-form midfielder Ngani Laumape after he sustained what appeared to be an arm injury.
His injury-enforced replacement followed the first half substitution of prop Fraser Armstrong, who looked to have gone down with a shoulder problem.
The duo’s injuries come after starting tighthead prop Tyrel Lomax was a late scratching from the game, as were bench forward Isaia Walker-Leawere and Vaea Fifita.
Speaking to media in the wake of his side’s momentous win, Hurricanes head coach Jason Holland revealed he didn’t yet know how significant the injuries to Laumape and Armstrong were, although there are fears the former has broken his wrist.
“To be honest we were battling during the week,” Holland said of his squad’s physical fatigue.
“We spent the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday recovering this week from a big Blues game so it needs some thinking about because we need our bodies right. We need to make sure that the boys don’t have short careers.”
The Hurricanes’ bye week, then, has come at the right time for Holland’s men as they now trail the Crusaders by just three points on the competition standings with a game in hand.
“There are a lot of battered bodies there and we’ll enjoy the few days off physically, but also mentally and switch off, it’s important.
“We’ve got to make sure that we come back with the same mentality and the same mindset around how we’re going to approach the last couple of weeks and put as much pressure on the Crusaders at the top of the table as we can.”
With only two more games to play – against the Chiefs in Wellington and Highlanders in Dunedin – there are few opportunities remaining for the Hurricanes to overtake the Crusaders and push for the Super Rugby Aotearoa title.
Holland, however, admires how his side have overturned a 0-2 start to the campaign and have moved themselves into title contention.
“We were none and two probably a month ago and the boys came together and got tight and made sure that we lived our values a little bit,” he said.
“We still haven’t finished on what we’re trying to do this season so getting the win down here is great and we’ll enjoy that, but we’ve got a few more weeks to go and we’ll continue to grow our game.”
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