Five players to watch: The Hurricanes

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Tyrell Lomax (Prop)

 

All Blacks Tests: 1

Super Rugby games: 34 – Rebels (13 – 2017), Highlanders (21 – 2018-19). Points: Highlanders 10

Mitre 10 Cup (Tasman) 29. Points: 10

 

Making the switch to the Hurricanes from the Highlanders is a big step for Tyrell Lomax, who began his Super Rugby career with the Melbourne Rebels in 2017. But it is one that should provide him with plenty of opportunities to advance his tighthead propping skills.

 

Stepping into an experienced front row where there is plenty of competition for places will help. Lomax has developed quickly, has gained a Test cap, and with a share of the Mitre 10 Cup success with Tasman behind him he will come into the side with a degree of confidence for the task ahead. Hurricanes forward power has become more consistent in recent seasons and Lomax could add even more value for the side.

 

Vince Aso (Centre)

 

Super Rugby games: Hurricanes 45. Points: 105

Mitre 10 Cup: 39  (Auckland 28- 2013-17) Wellington (11 - 2019). Points: 65 - Auckland 40, Wellington 25

 

Six years into his Hurricanes tenure Vince Aso is in the prime of his career and is a key contributor to the side's attacking prowess. A competition winner with the Hurricanes in his breakthrough season of 2016, he revelled in chances provided in the wake of the departure of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith. Since then he has continued to make an impact.

 

This year he transferred his Mitre 10 Cup allegiance from Auckland, after he missed their championship-winning season in 2018 due to injury, and played for Wellington instead, scoring five tries in their campaign that ended with the runners-up medal in the final.

 

Du'Plessis Kirifi (Flanker)

 

Super Rugby games: Hurricanes 15. Points: 5

Mitre 10 Cup (Wellington) 27. Points: 30

 

Hard-working flanker Du'Plessis Kirifi had an outstanding campaign when leading Wellington to the final of the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership in 2019. He was relentless throughout the season and while not the biggest of players in his position, he brings speed, ability and continuity in his play.

 

That fits in perfectly with the Hurricanes style and when in partnership with Ardie Savea and Gareth Evans et al in the loose it means little rest for the opposition. He shapes as an important contributor for the side for many seasons to come.

 

 

Ngani Laumape (Second five-eighths)

 

All Blacks Tests: 15, Test points: 50

Super Rugby games: Hurricanes 61. Points: 210

Mitre 10 Cup (Manawatu) 19. Points: 70

 

Disappointed to miss out on the Rugby World Cup squad, second five-eighths Ngani Laumape shapes as a big contender for the role in New Zealand's rugby future and central to that will be a continuation of the consistency of form he has shown for the Hurricanes. A different element that will require all his experience in handling will be the absence of usual playmaker inside him, Beauden Barrett.

 

However, Laumape brings his own hard-running capabilities to the role and in combination with the quality loose forwards in the side, there is more than a hint of potential Hurricanes' backline mischief in 2020.

 

Asafo Aumua (Hooker)

 

All Blacks Tests: 2

Super Rugby games: Hurricanes 15. Points: 0

Mitre 10 Cup (Wellington) 35. Points: 85

 

From a highly prospective start following his success in the world championship-winning New Zealand Under-20s in 2017, hooker Asafo Aumua has been subject to injury and form issues but showed during the Mitre 10 Cup campaign that he was getting back to his very best and that is welcome news for Hurricanes fans. Competition in the hooking ranks in the squad is probably the highest of all the franchises as he works with Dane Coles and Ricky Riccitelli to contest the starting role for the side.

 

There is little doubt that Aumua in rampant form with the ball in hand is one of the more impressive sights in the game and if able to get consistent match play in 2020 it could be a big help for a useful looking Hurricanes forward combination.

 

Hurricanes 2020 squad:

 

Forwards: Pouri Rakete-Stones, Fraser Armstrong, Alex Fidow, Tyrel Lomax, Ben May, Xavier Numia, Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Ricky Riccitelli, James Blackwell, Kane Le'aupepe, Liam Mitchell, Scott Scrafton, Isaia Walker-Leawere Vaea Fifita, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea, Murphy Taramai, Devan Flanders, Gareth Evans.

 

Backs: TJ Perenara, Jamie Booth, Jonathan Taumateine, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Fletcher Smith, Ngani Laumape, Vince Aso, Billy Proctor, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Danny Toala, Kobus van Wyk, Wes Goosen, Ben Lam, Jonah Lowe, Salesi Rayasi, Jordie Barrett, James Marshall, Chase Tiatia.

 

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