The club publicly insisted it had nothing to do with Van Wyk committing to English Premiership club Leicester Tigers. Coach Jason Holland responded saying it was a tactical decision.
“We’ve had a plan around our back three and midfielders, and the best way to beat the Crusaders, we reckon, is to have Wes on the wing,” he said before the game.
Speaking on the Aotearoa Rugby Podcast, Blues hooker James Parsons and Chiefs halfback Brad Weber may have uncovered the reason for the switch, as part of a plan to diffuse the Crusaders kicking game.
“He’s [Goosen] pretty good under the high ball, and the Crusaders like that box kick, and they love those sort of short box kicks for Bridgey to chase and compete,” Parsons explained.
“It’s an area we [the Blues] struggled against them with. With Wes there, he’s solid and then Jordie as well, it was probably a decision around what they were going to face from the Crusaders.
The Hurricanes finished with a contestable kick rate of 67% compared to the Crusaders 42%.
The decision to swap the finishing skills of Van Wyk for Wes Goosen also did not disappoint, with Goosen scoring two tries from the two opportunities that came his way, vindicating Holland’s selection masterstroke.
“In the end, if you look at the stats, it’s quite surprising, the Crusaders kicked less than the Hurricanes,” Parsons highlighted.
“Against the Chiefs, they kicked 42 times and against us [Blues] it was 36. The only kicked 20 times in the loss to the Hurricanes.
“I don’t think they managed to get their usual systems and game plan running.”
The Hurricanes were aided by a messy Crusaders line out which Parsons says he doesn’t think he has seen in a long time. The Crusaders completed just 50% of their line out throws, while the Hurricanes finished with a respectable 83%.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a Crusaders line out struggle like this for a long time.”
He highlighted the absence of Scott Barrett to injury and the loss of one of the best jumping Number 8’s in the world in Kieran Read as reasons for losing some of their continuity at the set-piece platform.
“They normally just piggyback those penalties, go to the corner, go to the maul, and that’s how they have got out of trouble in the past.
Chiefs halfback Brad Weber was impressed by the Hurricanes approach which his side will try to replicate to avoid eight straight losses when they face them this weekend.
“If you can get stuck into them up front, bring a bit of niggle, they certainly don’t seem to like that. Then you can upset them in other areas.
“You could see they were really frustrated at times throughout the game. Case in point, that last wee dust up with things boiling over.
“You slowly frustrate the Crusaders and you are a chance of beating them. The Hurricanes really took it to them, they played without fear, got stuck in.
Listen to the full episode of the Aotearoa Rugby Pod below.
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