Still mourning the death of Jerry Collins, the Hurricanes are focused on honouring his memory with the best performance possible in their last match ahead of the Super Rugby playoffs.
Coach John Plumtree says the team are still coming to terms with the former All Blacks’ death, alongside his wife Alana Madill, in a car crash in France last Friday (NZT).
Their baby daughter Ayla was gravely injured in the crash about a half-hour drive from Narbonne, where Collins had been playing since January for the town’s second division club.
The Hurricanes learned of Collins’ death barely an hour before their match against the Highlanders in Napier last Friday, and Plumtree said it would take time to process the emotion.
“I just can’t believe it – I love that guy so much. He was always really good to me, and helped me a lot in the early part of my coaching days,” he said on Monday.
“I can’t believe I’m not going to see him again.”
The Hurricanes ran in eight tries in beating the Highlanders 56-20 at McLean Park, wrapping up top spot on the Super Rugby ladder ahead of their last regular season game against the fourth-placed Chiefs in New Plymouth on Saturday.
Sitting 15 points clear of the second-placed Waratahs, the Hurricanes have earned a week off before a home semi-final on June 26 or 27.
Plumtree says while their former teammate is still very much on the players’ minds, and plans are being made to honour him, the immediate focus is on winding up the regular season with a win.
“We know the attitude’s got to be absolutely on the money when we got to New Plymouth this weekend.
“We’re expecting a big crowd up there, and we’re playing against a great side, a champion side, so attitude is hugely important for us.
“If it’s not right, we’ll get a hiding.”