Undefeated Hurricanes preparing for brutal battle with Fijian Drua in Suva

April 15, 2024 4:45 pm

[Source: Newshub]

The Super Rugby Pacific-leading Hurricanes aren’t underestimating the Fijian Drua as they prepare to head to Suva for their clash on Friday night.

And for good reason.

Despite sitting six spots behind the Hurricanes on the table after eight rounds, the Drua are a completely different beast when playing at home.

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In their three games played in Fiji in 2024, the side is currently undefeated, with wins over the Crusaders, Waratahs and Western Force, outscoring the three sides by a combined 31 points.

The tropical conditions combined with a lively home crowd are the key factors that see opposition teams struggle when they travel to the Pacific nation.

With the Drua also fresh off a bye in round seven, Hurricanes assistant coach Jamie Mackintosh knows his side needs to be ready for a brutal contest if they want to remain at the top of the standings.

“Fundamentally get ready for a war or it’s going to be a long day,” Mackintosh told media on Monday. “The people are amazing, it’s a friendly place, but they love to beat you up.

“Crowd noise, slippery ball, the way the Fijian boys use momentum – it’s something incredible that they get over there. They get up on top of the grass and they start playing their game and they’re really really difficult to stop.

“And I’ll tell you one thing – if you’re not physical and not winning collisions both with and without the ball on defense, it’s going to be a long day.

“They’re physical, they’ve made massive inroads with their set piece and now they have become a team that’s formidable so it’s going to be a massive job.”

A potential ambush in Suva is also something the Hurricanes know all too well.

The Drua beat the Canes 27-24 in round 11 of the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season in what was a famous win in front of their adoring home fans.

It’s that loss combined with the Drua’s dominance at home in 2024, that has the Hurricanes players and staff using every tool they have to prepare for the contest, including the state-of-the-art altitude and temperature rooms at their Upper Hutt-based NZCIS facility.

“It’s awesome to be able to use a facility to its maximum potential, we did a lot of stuff in there during preseason which was pretty uncomfortable for the lads,” said Mackintosh.

“It’s heat, noise and concentrating under pressure and really trying to dial into some detail. What NZCIS provides for us is no excuses around the 1 or 2 percentages that make a difference, recovery, information flow.”

Hurricanes centre Billy Proctor also feels the facility gives the Hurricanes a unique advantage.

“We were just in the altitude room… preparing for what we think it’s going to be like in Suva where it’s hot, just everything we think is going to be coming in the next week,” said Proctor.

“We definitely know the challenge that’s at hand. They feed off the heat and feed off the crowd. You lose energy quickly over there.”

The Hurricanes have been the benchmark team so far in 2024. They are undefeated in seven games and have claimed wins over all four other New Zealand teams including a 36-23 win over the preseason favourite Chiefs on Saturday.

Despite their terrific start, Mackintosh doesn’t believe they have reached their full potential.

“The age of these guys is just hitting their prime,” he said.

“So far so good but we are going to come across and going to have to deal with adversity and I think we have set ourselves up pretty well to deal with that.”