Ardie: Last year is last year

The Napier Mail - - YOUR HEALTH - HAMISH BIDWELL

It’s go­ing to be some tug of war.

On their end of the rope, the Hur­ri­canes are done talk­ing about 2016. All that mat­ters is the next ruck, the next set piece, the next game. Look­ing back serves no pur­pose.

It’s the rest of us who want to drag the Su­per Rugby cham­pi­ons back to last year. Without that ti­tle, the team aren’t nearly so in­ter­est­ing or their 2017 matches quite so rel­e­vant.

This time last year the Hur­ri­canes ap­peared portly and slug­gish, as the Brumbies spanked them 52-10 in Can­berra. On Sat­ur­day they be­gan the de­fence of the crown - they don’t like it re­ferred to in that fash­ion - by beat­ing the Sun­wolves 83-17 in Tokyo.

The Hur­ri­canes looked fit and sharp and en­thused and pro­duced some lovely stuff at the Prince Chichibu Me­mo­rial Sta­dium.

How to put it into con­text, though? Last year they started slow but won the ti­tle. This year they’ve started fast, but can they sus­tain that?

Is there any way the team can com­pere where they are this time around to how they kicked off the pre­vi­ous cam­paign?

‘‘Last year’s last year,’’ flanker Ardie Savea said suc­cinctly.

Savea scored two of the Hur­ri­canes’ 13 tries in Tokyo and didn’t feel there was much that could be read into the per­for­mance. The team played very well for a while and then not so well at the end. That’s it.

‘‘The first 50 or 60 min­utes we were re­ally happy with the way the boys went,’’ said Savea.

‘‘It kind of blew out a bit, but we wanted to main­tain our struc­tures and keep in our sys­tems and didn’t want to start do­ing stuff that we haven’t trained. But for the last 20 min­utes we kind of fell off a bit and the Sun­wolves came back fir­ing, so we’ve got to look at that.’’

It can’t be easy to keep your stan­dards high when the op­po­si­tion’s are so low?

‘‘We al­ways talk about just nail­ing our role and next pass and next job and, what­ever that was, the boys did that to the best of their abil­i­ties. In that first 50 or 60 min­utes we scored and we ex­ited and did our core jobs,’’ Savea said.

Lock Michael Fa­tialofa and wing Vince Aso also bagged a brace of tries, to go with oth­ers from hooker Ricky Ric­ctelli, half­back TJ Per­e­nara, wing Ju­lian Savea, sec­ond five-eighth Ngani Laumape, No.8 Blade Thom­son, flanker Brad Shields and re­place­ment Wes Goosen. First five-eighth Otere Black con­verted nine of the 13 tries.

Thom­son suf­fered a shoul­der in­jury and could face sev­eral weeks out of the side, while Aso was play­ing in place of Cory Jane. Jane hurt his neck at train­ing and a spell on the side­line looms for him too.

Most of Sat­ur­day’s scor­ers are no stranger to the try­line but for Fa­tialofa, the ex­pe­ri­ence was a novel one. The lock scored one try from close range, with the other re­quir­ing him to gal­lop in from about 30 me­tres.

‘‘I don’t think I’ve scored a try for about five years, in ITM [Cup] or Su­per. I think I’ve got one ITM try [in my ca­reer] so to get two in one game I was pretty shocked,’’ Fa­tialofa said.

Par­tic­u­larly the one from fur­ther out.

‘‘I didn’t re­ally know what to do, to be hon­est. I was go­ing to pass it to TJ [Per­e­nara] but he told me to just keep run­ning.’’

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Hur­ri­canes flanker Ardie Savea, left, wraps up the Sun­wolves’ Mal­gene Ilaua.

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