Hurricanes keeping their eye on the prize

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Monday, June 24, 2019    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

The Hurricanes had been on the receiving end of losses to the Crusaders at home and away to them during the regular season and they were well aware of the significance of the task they have ahead of them, assistant coach Carlos Spencer said on Monday.

"It is just about focusing on us and playing our game, which is important and just looking after our own roles as individuals. We don't want to put too much emphasis on them and it's just about staying relaxed and enjoying the week and putting the emphasis on what an awesome occasion this is," he said.

"We understand it is going to be tough, they are a great team, a great side. They've proven that over the years, they've proven that this year and we all understand that. It's all about focusing on what we can do and bringing our Hurricanes game," he said.

There was some encouraging news on the injury front although wing Wes Goosen, who has been troubled by a hamstring injury in recent weeks, and who had to leave the field after helping set up halfback TJ Perenara's try in the quarterfinal, was the only player unlikely to be available for selection.

Centre Matt Proctor, who has been out with an injury, had come through club rugby at the weekend which was a positive and he would be watched over the next few days before the selection was made.

For younger members of the squad, who have been making their mark in the latter part of the campaign, it was a case of keeping them relaxed while having them understand they were good enough to be playing at this level.
"Regardless of the opposition they are here for a reason and if they do get an opportunity it is for a reason so it is just about getting them relaxed, and composed, and getting them to enjoy the week.

"It is a great occasion to play in the semifinal against arguably the best club team in the world," he said.

"Experience is important in a game like this, we understand that, but it is important we play guys that are fully fit. Guys have to be 100 percent fit to be able to do a job for us this week," he said.

But at the same time it was a case of backing everyone in the squad who were given the job, whether they had played 80 games for the Hurricanes or six games.

While there was the prospect of some individual match-ups between the sides, Spencer said he didn't think the Hurricanes could afford to think about that. The Hurricanes would have to be effective as a team and that was the main message they needed to get across during the week.

For first five-eighths Beauden Barrett there was no need for a special word to him given the inevitable focus there will be on his clash with Richie Mo'unga, Spencer said. He had been there before and it was a case of having faith and trust in the players in that they prepared well to go out and do a job not only for themselves but for the team as well.