Hurricanes seek atonement against Highlanders

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Not atonement for the loss to the Highlanders in the competition decider, more for the 52-10 thrashing they were handed by the ACT Brumbies in Canberra in the opening round of this year's tournament last week.

“If we dish up what we did last week, we will get a towelling,” Boyd told reporters in Wellington on Thursday.

“We haven't talked about last year's final. This is 2016 and what was last year and we have moved on as a team. There was never any intent to drag back the past.”

Boyd said his players had been told in no uncertain terms their performance against the Brumbies was not what he expected of a side that had high hopes of going one step further than last season's 21-14 final loss

Instead they were dominated in the contact area by the Brumbies, penalised heavily in the scrums and made numerous errors in execution of plays and handling.

Local and Australian media lambasted the performance, with former Wallabies hooker Phil Kearns' suggestion that the Hurricanes were unfit drawing an angry response from players and management alike.

Boyd, however, resisted the temptation to change his starting side for the clash at Otago Regional Stadium, with only fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder an injury concern, while hooker and captain Dane Coles was again ruled out with a calf injury.

Atonement, it seemed, was needed.

“It was a team performance that was sub-standard so we felt that it was a good opportunity for the players who had performed averagely to get another opportunity,” Boyd said.

“I think that anybody who plays high performance sport that has had a bad performance is probably not going to back it up (with another).

“They have the opportunity to right the wrong and we will see what happens.

“I don't think there was any shortage of motivation to play the Highlanders... there has certainly been an edge at training this week. It has been good.”

Reuters

Original source: Hurricanes seek atonement against Highlanders

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