Hurricanes relaxed ahead of biggest game of the year

By James Perry

Having lost their two games against the Crusaders this year, including a 32-8 thrashing last time out, the Hurricanes are hoping it's third time lucky this weekend in the semi-finals in Christchurch. 

Although they looked relaxed at training today playing basketball and a spot of cricket at Wellington's ASB Centre, the Hurricanes are under no illusions about the difficult task that awaits them on Saturday night. 

"We understand it's going to be tough, they're a great team, they're a great side- they've proven that over the years, they've proven that this year ... But it's focusing on what we can do and bringing that Hurricanes game," says assistant coach Carlos Spencer.

Spencer has the experience behind him to help his squad prepare for the task of trying to unseat the defending champions.  He helped the Blues to three Super Rugby Titles, including their last one in 2003 defeating the Crusaders who had won their fourth title the previous year.

"it's just really about keeping them relaxed and composed and getting them to enjoy the week.  It's a great occasion to play in a semi-final against arguably the best club team in the world," Spencer says.

The Hurricanes scraped past the Bulls on the weekend in their quarter-final clash, holding on to win 35-28 at home.  They believe they are in a good position to spring an upset this weekend, having had to endure a torrid and tenacious Bulls side.

Jordie Barrett says they learned a lot about the nature of knock-out football on Saturday. 

"If we had our time again and we did things differently, we could have advanced the match.  But, look its finals footy and we're just happy to scrape and dig deep."

Spencer says they will work on some key areas this week as they look to be better against the nine-time champions. 

"We've just got to be a bit more clinical and ruthless in those areas and make smarter decisions.  Especially against a side that's going to bring heat, [such as] line speed, so we just got to bet smarter around that and execution has got to be top-notch," the former All Black says.

If the Hurricanes do manage to cause an upset in Christchurch they'll advance to the final the following week, where they'll have to travel to either the Brumbies in Canberra or Argentina where the Jaguares will be waiting.

If not, they'll have some time to watch the Cricket World Cup and pick up some batting tips.