Home: SKY Stadium
Last Season: 4
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.
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.
Game breaker: Ngani Laumape
Having established himself as a key contributor to the Hurricanes' midfield, Laumape's role is even more important in the absence of first five-eighths Beauden Barrett, and centre Matt Proctor. Laumape's hopes of continuing to be a game breaker depends heavily on the transition the Hurricanes can make inside him and by his own contribution to the backs outside him both on attack and defensively. It is a tough ask but could be the makings of Laumape who in the absence of Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty must be looking to play a bigger role in the future and a good season with the Hurricanes would help his cause.
Key signing: Tyrel Lomax
Scrum issues have occasionally hamstrung the Hurricanes in recent seasons but with Lomax's signing there is a chance he will be able to grow his game to the point where he is able to embrace not only a leadership role in the Hurricanes pack but advance his game on the national level. Given the losses the side has suffered in the off-season, the ability to be able to compete up front will be crucial and Lomax will be central to that effort. There is a strong core in the front row with Alex Fidow, Ben May and the hooking trio of Dane Coles, Ricky Riccitelli and Asafo Aumua and Lomax should add to the lustre.
Returning veteran: Dane Coles
Given all the injury frustrations he has suffered in recent seasons it would be a significant help for the Hurricanes if Coles was able to enjoy a season of consistent match play. An experienced cog in the machine he offers leadership and dynamism in his roles in the side and will have an important part to play in the way the Hurricanes cope with some of the pressures they are certain to face this year. There is no doubt if Coles can get the game time there will still be a solid core for opponents to overcome if they are to beat them. That will be encouraging but so also will his ability to work with the pack to ensure they produce their best.
New coach Jason Holland faces a tough task with the side through no fault of his own. Elevation came with Plumtree's departure on All Blacks duty so there was little time for Holland to put his own touch to preparations and plans for the side. However, a bonus could be a two-game start on the road for the side against the Stormers and Jaguares. It is a tough start but also one where being out of the public spotlight that would surely attend them in Wellington, they can work on their game and prospectively achieve the unity that has marked their game in recent seasons in which time they have four times reached the playoffs. Finding a replacement capable of partially filling the hole left by Beauden Barrett will be crucial to that.