With the Super Rugby season descending quickly upon us - yes, it's still summer outside - Newshub rugby tragic John Day casts his discerning eye over how the New Zealand teams are shaping up for next week's kick-off.
Titles: One (2016)
Last season: Fourth (12-3-1), lost semi-final to Crusaders
Coach: Jason Holland
Props - Fraser Armstrong, Alex Fidow, Tyrel Lomax, Ben May, Xavier Numia, Pouri Rakete-Stones
Hookers - Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Ricky Riccitelli
Locks - James Blackwell, Kane Le'aupepe, Liam Mitchell, Scott Scrafton, Isaia Walker-Leawere
Loose forwards - Vaea Fifita, Devan Flanders, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea, Murphy Taramai, Gareth Evans
Halfbacks - TJ Perenara, Jamie Booth, Jonathan Taumateine
First-Fives - Jackson Garden-Bachop, James Marshall, Fletcher Smith
Midfield - Ngani Laumape, Billy Proctor, Danny Toala, Peter Umaga-Jensen
Outside Backs - Vince Aso, Wes Goosen, Ben Lam, Jonah Lowe, Kobus van Wyk, Jordie Barrett, Chase Tiatia
Feb 2 @Stormers
Feb 9 @Jaguares
Feb 15 v Sharks
Feb 29 v Sunwolves
Mar 7 v Blues
Mar 13 @Chiefs
Mar 20 @Crusaders
Mar 27 v Bulls
Apr 4 @Brumbies
Apr 11 @Blues
Apr 17 v Highlanders
May 1 v Chiefs
May 8 v Crusaders
May 16 @Highlanders
May 22 @Reds
May 30 v Waratahs
Beauden Barrett's departure to the Blues has most people instantly writing off the Hurricanes' chances of winning the 2020 title. The two-time World Rugby Player of the Year has been the key reason why the Hurricanes have been perennial contenders since 2015 and the other first-five options aren't world class.
The tight five has always been the Achilles heel of the Hurricanes, so the signing of Tyrel Lomax is huge. The son of Kiwis league hard man John Lomax looks like a chip off the old block.
The 23-year-old tighthead prop has already shown he's up to All Blacks standard and will make a massive difference to the 'Canes at scrum-time.
Biggest question - Are the coaching staff good enough?
Jason Holland will be the third different coach in as many years for the Hurricanes, after the departure of Chris Boyd and John Plumtree. By all accounts, he is a great operator with a strong relationship with the players, but it's his first gig as a head coach, while Cory Jane and Carlos Spencer are also relative newbies in his staff.
Without a strong influence at first-five, TJ Perenara must give the Hurricanes the direction they need. The All Blacks No.9 will be a co-captain this year, and will need to call the shots on and off the field.
The 27-year-old's entering the prime of his career and will need to be at his best, if the Canes are any chance of another title.
Who the hell is he?
A new wave of front-row talent is surging through the capital, with Xavier Numia definitely one to watch. The 21 year-old was a schoolboy star at St Pat's Town and was Wellington Lions Rookie of the Year in 2018.
He's a massive man with a big future and should make a big play for the starting loosehead jersey this season.
With Beauden Barrett gone, Ardie Savea out injured for the start of the season and a new coach, I'm picking the Hurricanes to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2014.