With playoff appearances in each of the past four seasons and a history-making title in 2016, the Hurricanes are riding the crest of their best era in club history.
Home: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Last year: Fourth
Gains: Geoff Cridge, Liam Mitchell, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Richard Judd, Fletcher Smith (Highlanders), Billy Proctor, James Marshall, Salesi Rayasi
Losses: Reg Goodes, Murray Douglas (Brumbies), Michael Fatialofa, Brad Shields, Blade Thomson, Jamie Booth, Ihaia West (UK), TJ Va'a, Julian Savea, Peter Umaga-Jensen
Asafo Aumua (Wellington), Dane Coles (Wellington), Ricky Riccitelli (Taranaki), Fraser Armstrong (Manawatu), Chris Eves (North Harbour), Alex Fidow (Wellington), Ben May (Hawke’s Bay), Toby Smith (Waikato), Jeff To’omaga-Allen (Wellington), James Blackwell (Wellington), Geoff Cridge (Hawke’s Bay), Sam Lousi (Wellington), Liam Mitchell (Manawatu), Isaia Walker-Leawere (Wellington), Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Gareth Evans (Hawke’s Bay), Vaea Fifita (Wellington), Sam Henwood (Counties Manukau), Du’Plessis Kirifi (Wellington), Reed Prinsep (Canterbury), Ardie Savea (Wellington), Finlay Christie (Tasman), Richard Judd (Bay of Plenty), TJ Perenara (Wellington), Beauden Barrett (Taranaki), Jackson Garden-Bachop (Wellington), Fletcher Smith (Waikato), Vince Aso (Auckland), Wes Goosen (Wellington), Ngani Laumape (Manawatu), Billy Proctor (Wellington), Matt Proctor (Wellington), Jordie Barrett (Taranaki), Ben Lam (Wellington), Jonah Lowe (Hawke’s Bay), Nehe Milner-Skudder (Manawatu), James Marshall, Salesi Rayasi (Auckland).
One of the breakout stars of Auckland’s Mitre 10 Cup Premiership success in 2018, flying wing Salesi Rayasi returns to his hometown of Wellington to play his first season of Super Rugby. Rayasi started 2018 as a devastating finisher for the All Blacks Sevens and ended it as a rising star of the fifteens game. In 11 games for Auckland, Rayasi crossed for nine tries, made 22 clean breaks and beat 43 defenders. With Julian Savea now plying his trade in France, Rayasi could well step up as one of the Hurricanes leading game-breakers.
Last year Ben Lam broke the all-time Super Rugby single season try-scoring record by crossing for 16 tries. The drums were beating for an All Blacks call-up which never came. But if Lam can replicate that form again in 2019, the All Blacks selectors may have their hand forced into selecting the Hurricanes powerhouse. Blessed with size, pace and power, Lam is a potent attacking force and the perfect man to have at the end of the Hurricanes chain.
After missing all of 2018 due to a knee injury, club stalwart and captain Dane Coles is back in 2019. Refreshed from his time away from the field, Coles has signed onto the Hurricanes until 2021 and said he is still keen to achieve more success with his beloved side. “I still feel like there are things that I want to achieve in New Zealand with teams that mean a lot to me,” Coles said. The 32-year-old hooker will form a powerful partnership with fellow hookers and fringe All Blacks Ricky Riccitelli and Asafo Aumua.
Source: Super Rugby NZ
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