Hurricanes are going for broke
Wes Goosen will win his 50th cap when the Hurricanes face the Chiefs in their penultimate Aotearoa fixture in Wellington on Saturday, but that doesn’t mean South African winger Kobus van Wyk is sitting out.
The former Sharks and Western Province flyer is continuing his career at the English club Leicester Tigers when Aotearoa is over, and that induced speculation when he was left out of the team that beat the Crusaders two weeks ago that his time in the jersey was over.
However, coach Brad Holland said at the time that it was horses for courses, and Goosen did produce in Christchurch as he crossed for two good tries and generally impressed.
The other wing, Ben Lam, was also good in that game but he is no longer part of the Hurricanes challenge as the epic win in Christchurch over the Super Rugby champions and likely Aotearoa winners was his last before he left for French club Bordeaux. And that’s how
Goosen and Van Wyk slot into the same starting team for the first time as the Hurricanes prepare to host the Chiefs.
Goosen moves to the left wing, with Van Wyk coming in on the right wing where, incidentally, former All Black try-scoring machine Julian Savea is likely to be seen the next time the Hurricanes go into competition.
The more pressing concern for the Hurricanes right now is finding a way to keep their Aotearoa challenge alive.
They probably aren’t betting on the Highlanders upsetting Crusaders in Christchurch on Sunday, but they nonetheless do need to play against the Chiefs as if there is hope.
The Hurricanes, who are on a hot winning streak at present, can still be part of a three or two-way tie at the top if they win both their remaining games with bonus points.
It would, though, require the Crusaders to lose, and that’s the hard part.
The Crusaders face a tough visit to Auckland in the last week, but they should be favoured to win at home against the Highlanders on Sunday. And that’s all the Christchurch team needs to clinch the trophy.
The Hurricanes, though, have nothing to lose and reason to go for broke. If they score three more tries they get the five log points they need to still be alive in the competition on Sunday. —