Hurricanes skipper Dane Coles has hinted the Queensland Reds may experience a backlash from his team’s off-field dramas in Saturday’s Super Rugby clash.
All Blacks Julian Savea, Cory Jane and Victor Vito plus gun flanker Ardie Savea and prop Chris Eves will sit out the Westpac Stadium match as punishment for breaking a curfew in the lead-up to the Hurricanes’ 32-15 loss to the Sharks in Durban last weekend.
“There are three key guys there that lead this team and they’re feeling pretty stink, as they should,” said Coles on Friday.
“But we’ve dealt with it now and hopefully we can move on.”
The All Blacks hooker expects more commitment from his players against the Reds, who are coming off a 38-5 trouncing by the Crusaders in Christchurch last weekend.
The Hurricanes and Sharks were tied at 8-8 at halftime last weekend but the home team ran in three unanswered second-half tries to wrap up the game.
“Our attitude was poor, to be honest,” Coles said.
“We’ve had a bit of a drumming from the coaches – we let ourselves down.”
Despite the Reds’ sub-par record, with just two wins from 10 starts, Coles expects the Queenslanders to provide a stern challenge.
“They’re a very good set piece side, so the scrum and lineout will be a massive key this week.”
And he’s keen for the Hurricanes to respond in kind, particularly after their disappointing last home result, a 27-28 loss to the Chiefs.
“We just have to get our attitude right for this game, especially as we let ourselves down playing at home last time,” he said.
Julian Savea’s unavailability means a Super Rugby debut for 20-year-old Wes Goosen on the left wing.
Jason Woodward comes in on the right wing for Jane, Blade Thomson replaces Vito, and Callum Gibbins takes over from Ardie Savea.
Loni Uhila takes Eves’ place as loosehead back-up in the reserves.