Rugby Union


"Fat, slow and unfit" Hurricanes ready for Brumbies Super Rugby redemption in Napier

The Wellington Hurricanes were hammered for being "fat, slow and unfit" the last time they played the ACT Brumbies before charging to a Super Rugby title last year.

But inside centre Ngani Laumape says the stinging words from former Wallaby Phil Kearns still hit home as the teams prepare to go head to head in Napier.

The Brumbies are aiming to end a New Zealand drought while the Hurricanes are intent on taking their claim for back to back championships.

Most thought the Hurricanes were destined for disaster after slumping to a 52-10 loss in Canberra in round one last season.

It was the lowest point of the club's historic season before they rebounded to win a historic championship. But NRL convert Laumape says he will never forget the sinking feeling of his Super Rugby debut.

"I've had a couple of hard times in Canberra when I was playing with the [New Zealand] Warriors in the NRL," Laumape said.


"It was definitely an eye-opening game and the critics came out and blasted us. But I think the boys reacted really well after it.

"Everyone always remembers their first Super Rugby and it does [still] hurt. But that was last year and we've just got to take each year as it comes."

The Hurricanes have lost just one of their six games so far this year and have the best attacking record in the competition.

Beating the Brumbies, the top-ranked Australian team of the past four seasons, would fire another message to their rivals about chasing back to back championships.

Laumape has scored a season-high eight tries this season and has taken on the duties of playing outside the world player of the year, Beauden Barrett.

The Brumbies will have to find a way to curb Barrett's influence if they want to win their first game in New Zealand since 2014.

But Laumape says even Barrett's teammates don't know what's coming when the All Blacks flyhalf gets the ball in his hands.

"It's pretty special to be playing outside him," Laumape said.

"The hardest thing is probably just trying to keep up with him. It's pretty special and one day I'll look back and be grateful I got the chance to play with him.

"You've just got to be ready at all times [when Barrett has the ball], he's so quick."

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has given his players the freedom to take risks against the Hurricanes in a bid to match their attacking flair.

The Brumbies piled on the points against the Queensland Reds two weeks ago but struggled to find the same rhythm in a shock loss to the Melbourne Rebels last weekend.

Larkham is wary of Barrett's influence on the game, saying: "He's one of those players who's in a purple patch.

"He's seeing the game quite well, moving well and he's certainly been one of their stand out players.

"For us, it's the same as every week. Most teams have dangerous No. 9 and No. 10 combinations so the challenge for us is to make sure we get the pressure on Beauden and [scrumhalf] TJ Perenara."

The Brumbies were given dispensation by SANZAAR to use Singapore Airlines to fly direct from Canberra to Wellington on Friday.

However, their travel time from the capital was still drawn out after spending several hours in Wellington waiting for a connecting flight to Napier.


Friday: Wellington Hurricanes v ACT Brumbies at McLean Park, Napier, 5.35pm. TV time: Live on Fox Sports 1.

Brumbies team: 15. Aidan Toua, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Andrew Smith, 11. James Dargaville, 10. Wharenui Hawera, 9. Joe Powell, 8. Jarrad Butler, 7. Chris Alcock, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Sam Carter, 4. Rory Arnold, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 2. Josh Mann-Rea, 1. Scott Sio. Reserves: 16. Robbie Abel, 17. Nic Mayhew, 18. Ben Alexander, 19. Blake Enever, 20. Lolo Fakaosilea, 21. De Wet Roos, 22. Jordan Jackson-Hope, 23. Nigel Ah Wong.

Hurricanes team: 15. Jordie Barrett, 14. Cory Jane, 13. Vince Aso, 12. Ngani Laumape, 11. Julian Savea, 10. Beauden Barrett, 9. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8. Blade Thomson, 7. Ardie Savea, 6. Brad Shields, 5. Vaea Fifita, 4. Mark Abbott, 3. Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, 2. Ricky Riccitelli, 1. Ben May. Reserves: 16. Leni Apisai, 17. Chris Eves, 18. Mike Kainga, 19. James Blackwell, 20. Callum Gibbins, 21. TJ Perenara, 22. Otere Black, 23. Ben Lam.