Super Rugby - What the Highlanders and Hurricanes have to Work with

There isn’t long until Super Rugby 2014 kicks off. It is exciting casting your eye over the different squads and exciting trying to pick the teams assuming everyone is fit (which doesn’t happen much these days).

The Hurricanes squad has been overshadowed by the Chiefs and Crusaders in the New Zealand conference in recent seasons, but their 2014 Super Rugby squad boasts plenty of talent.

There is a sprinkling of All Blacks, although it is difficult to tell when they will start playing in Super Rugby 2014.  The Hurricanes top players are hooker Dane Coles, prop Ben Franks, lock Jeremy Thrush, Number Eight Victor Vito and backs like TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Conrad Smith, Cory Jane and Julian Savea, while Alapati Leiua is an exciting Samoan international outside back. 

There are also some exciting young players like Brad Shields, Ardie Savea, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen and Marty Banks who will look to use their Super Rugby 2014 campaigns to launch their bids for All Black jerseys heading towards the Rugby World Cup 2015. 

Here is my Hurricanes 2014 starting team and bench.  The Hurricanes have plenty of quality across the paddock with their outside backs the toughest place to earn a starting spot.  Who would you put in the midfield with Conrad Smith?  The reliable Hadleigh Parkes look set to earn the second five eighth jersey ahead of Tim Bateman and Cardiff Vaega, although it is hard to know how his combination will go with Conrad Smith.  It is hard to find spots for the exciting Marty Banks and James Marshall.

Do you agree with my starting Hurricanes 2014 squad assuming everyone is available?

My Hurricanes Starting XV and bench

15. Cory Jane

14.  Alapati Leiua

13. Conrad Smith

12. Hadleigh Parkes

11. Julian Savea

10. Beauden Barrett

9. TJ Perenara

8. Victor Vito

7. Ardie Savea

6. Brad Shields

5. Jeremy Thrush

4. Mark Abbott

3. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen

2. Dane Coles

1.  Ben Franks

Reserves

16. Motu Matuú

17. Reggie Goodes

18. James Broadhurst

19.  Faifilli Levave

20. Chris Smylie

21. Marty Banks

22. Andre Taylor

 

The Hurricanes squad for 2014 is;

FORWARDS

Mark Abbott (Hawke’s Bay)

James Broadhurst (Taranaki)

Dane Coles (Wellington)

Ash Dixon (Hawke’s Bay)

Ben Franks (Hawke’s Bay)

Reggie Goodes (Wellington)

Jack Lam (Waikato)

Faifili Levave (Wellington)

Motu Matu’u (Wellington)

Mark Reddish (Wellington)

Ardie Savea (Wellington)

John Schwalger (Wellington)

Brad Shields (Wellington)

Eric Sione (Wellington)

Blade Thomson (Taranaki)

Jeremy Thrush (Wellington)

Jeffery Toomaga-Allen (Wellington)

Victor Vito (Wellington)

 

BACKS

Beauden Barrett (Taranaki)

Marty Banks (Tasman)

Tim Bateman (Wellington)

Cory Jane (Wellington)

Alapati Leiua (Wellington)

James Marshall (Taranaki)

Hadleigh Parkes (Auckland)

TJ Perenara (Wellington)

Matt Proctor (Wellington)

Julian Savea (Wellington)

Conrad Smith (Wellington)

Chris Smylie (Taranaki)

Andre Taylor (Taranaki)

Cardiff Vaega (Southland)

Elsewhere, the Highlander's 2014 squad looks a shadow of their 2013 counterparts - missing plenty of established All Blacks. 

The good thing is that they can't do much worse than they did last year.

The Chiefs have proved that you don't need a star team and to win a Super Rugby title, so there is still hope for the Highlanders in 2014. It is going to be difficult for the Highlanders given their lack of quality outside backs with Aaron and Ben Smith the only current All Blacks in their squad. 

It makes it scary given the calibre of other teams and it also makes it difficult to pick a team given that only Aaron and Ben Smith, Nasi Manu, John Hardie and Josh Bekhuis are definite starters.


This would be my starting squad assuming Super Rugby has a seven man bench.

What are your thoughts on this Highlanders Super Rugby 2014 team?

15. Ben Smith
14. Patrick Osborne
13. Malakai Fekitoa
12. Shaun Treeby
11. Kurt Baker
10. Willie Ripia
9. Aaron Smith
8. Nasi Manu
7. John Hardie
6. Elliot Dixon
5.  Josh Bekhuis
4.  Brad Thorn
3.  Matias Dias
2.  Liam Coltman
1.  Chris King
Reserves
16.  Brayden Mitchell
17.  M Fia
18.  Jarrad Hoeata
19.  TJ Ioane
20.  F Tanaka
21.  L Sopoaga
22.  P Burleigh
23.  B Popalií

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