John Day: Super Rugby 2020 team-by-team preview - Hurricanes

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

2020 Schedule

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

Biggest loss

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.

Tyrel Lomax in action for the Highlanders
Tyrel Lomax in action for the Highlanders. Photo credit: Photosport

Biggest gain

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.

Key player

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.

Xavier Numia scores a try for Wellington
Xavier Numia scores a try for Wellington. Photo credit: Photosport

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.

Fearless prediction

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.