The Timaru Herald

Rueful Canes

- Phillip Rollo

Hurricanes coach Jason Holland could not help but think back to the previous week’s costly defeat and wonder what if, when the fulltime whistle blew in Friday’s 43-14 win over the Reds.

Holland knew, had they not stumbled against the Brumbies in Canberra the week prior, a bonus point win over the Reds would have guaranteed the Hurricanes a place in the Super Rugby TransTasma­n final.

Instead, he was left to rue one slip up after finishing two points behind the Blues and Highlander­s, who will contest the final in Auckland this Saturday.

A place in the Trans-Tasman final would have likely made up for the Hurricanes finishing last in Super Rugby Aotearoa.

‘‘I’m always pretty tough on myself initially and winning two games out of eight earlier in the year and four out of five here is something you wouldn’t really consider a successful season as far as results,’’ Holland said.

‘‘There are three games we should have won in the New Zealand comp; the two Chiefs games and the extra-time game against the Crusaders, which probably put a different spin on our season.

‘‘But it gives us clear things to look at for how we approach next year, and a big part of that is how we manage close games and make sure you win big moments. I know it’s a bit of a cliche but it’s massive to understand what it takes to win a game of footy.’’

Now their Super Rugby season is over for another year, attention will quickly turn to player retention for 2022 with off-contract All Blacks stars Ardie Savea and Jordie Barrett top priority after losing Ngani Laumape to French club Stade Francais.

Savea was forced off the field early in the second half against the Reds with what appeared to be a recurrence of the knee injury that kept him out of most of the Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign, but Holland hoped it would not rule Savea out of upcoming All Blacks tests.

‘‘It is the same knee, which is a little bit of a worry, but he’s not feeling like he did when he [first] did it, so hopefully, fingers

‘‘I know it’s a bit of a cliche but it’s massive to understand what it takes to win a game of footy.’’ Canes coach Jason Holland

reflects on his team’s near misses

crossed, he’s going to be OK.’’

Neither Savea nor Barrett has committed to playing for the Hurricanes beyond this year, but Holland said he was confident of

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