Former loose forward Jerry Collins was a big part of the inspiration behind the Hurricanes’ defence this year, the new Super Rugby champions have revealed.
The Hurricanes have not conceded a try in almost five hours of rugby on their way to a maiden Super Rugby title.
Against the Chiefs in last weekend’s semi-final, they soaked up wave after wave of pressure and did the same against the Lions on Saturday night as they prevailed 20-3 in wet, cold and windy conditions at Westpac Stadium.
Collins, a staunch Wellingtonian and Hurricane, was one of the toughest defenders in rugby and was killed last year in a car accident in France where his partner also died and his daughter was left seriously injured.
“In the background, Jerry was a big motivation,” explained former teammate Victor Vito, after playing his 100th and final match for the Hurricanes.
“But if we got too lost in trying to do it for Jerry and forget our basic task, which was get up off the line and smack them (then it wouldn’t have worked).
“Jerry would have been proud simply because of the systems that we put in place (and executed).
Captain Dane Coles, who would have got a big tick from Collins after playing in the final despite struggling with a rib injury, said aside from Collins, there were plenty of other former Hurricanes who the players were glad to honour with the franchise’s maiden title.
“JC was a big part of (the) defensive theme this year but you just look back. Guys like Conrad (Smith), Norm Hewett, Jeremy Thrush, Christian Cullen – all those Hurricanes boys that have tried to win the trophy … there were so many Hurricanes legends who couldn’t get that trophy.
“Just to bring it to the franchise, for the ex-players and for the region, right up to the East Coast and Gisborne, I’m just so proud to be a Hurricane right now.
“(Winning Super Rugby) is bigger than us. It’s bigger than this team. There’s so many people who deserved it and didn’t get it. Just to say the Hurricanes have finally won a championship is just outstanding. I’m just so proud to be a Hurricane.”