Hurricanes prepare to take down the Brumbies

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The Brumbies have scored many of their tries this season from the lineout maul, and Hurricanes coach Jason Holland said it was one part of the game they had prepared for.


It was difficult to mount a consistent defence of the lineout maul close to the line, and there were things around the set-ups that if they were allowed to get right, made them tough to stop.


"The boys do a lot of work on it during the week around where they're putting their heads or possible jumps they might drive off, or what their defensive set-up looked like.


"I think we've improved there, we haven't shipped tries like we might have in the past, and for the last six or seven weeks we've been dynamic there," he said.


Their maul defence and their ability to defend spaces five metres from the goal-line had improved over the last month, and they would need to be 'bang-on' against the Brumbies on Sunday, he said.


Continuing to strive for a better start was also central to the selection for the game, while retaining Peter Umaga-Jensen and Bailyn Sullivan in the midfield because of improvements in their combination. They were dynamic against the Reds, but they had also tidied up small parts in their game where they were challenged.


"They went really well, and they need to again against a pretty strong Brumbies backline," he said.


The first 30 minutes against the Reds had been probably the worst 30 minutes they had played all season, and the review showed that when they were under pressure and unable to get their hands on the ball, their discipline foundered.


The Reds had used the penalties to kick to the corners and retain the ball.


"We know our strengths, and we know what it takes to put other teams under pressure and not us, and a lot of that is based around us having the ball and being well-disciplined," he said.


The Brumbies would be a step-up from the Reds with their physicality, their set-piece play and their maul, while their loose forwards and midfield were dynamic with the ability to get over the advantage line.


"We're expecting a pretty physical battle, and like what happened last week down in Canberra the first 20 minutes is going to be all go," he said.


That was what they did to beat the Highlanders, and the Hurricanes would need to be the side dominating the Brumbies, he said.


"It's a massive challenge for us."


Holland said they were down on their loose forward stocks, but former Blues flanker Blake Gibson had taken the chance that offered to put his stamp on the team.


"He's a bit of a weapon around his physicality and desire to get into everything like an old school seven. He's massive around the breakdown and around the tackle.


"He's been a great addition and there's a good edge between him and Du'Plessis Kirifi around who's the seven. Blake's put his hand up the last few weeks. He's an awesome young man, he's quiet, but I love the way he wants to play the game. He just wants to smash things which is refreshing for us as coaches," he said.


Holland also hinted that he wouldn't rule out having both Gibson and Kirifi on the field at the same time before the end of the season.


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