Hurricanes winger Cory Jane usually gets the plaudits for his attacking and finishing skills but it is his behind-the-scenes work on the team’s defence which is giving him more satisfaction this year.
It has been 221 minutes since the Hurricanes last conceded a try – a first-half effort by Crusaders midfielder Ryan Crotty in their final Super Rugby round robin match.
Since then Chris Boyd’s team have kept the Sharks scoreless in their quarterfinal and conceded just three penalties goals to the Chiefs in a semifinal win that was built on a huge defensive effort by the Hurricanes on their own line.
“When the team talk about (defence coach) John (Plumtree) or the media do I get a little bit of satisfaction there too because I’m behind the scenes helping him out as well,” said Jane.
“We’ve changed our defensive structure from what it was last year and even from game one (this year) to what it is now. We’re slowly getting better and better at it.
“When we don’t get it quite right teams can put points on us. But at the moment the boys are working hard for each other and we’re putting pressure on the opposition but we definitely need to take it up a level this week.”
Saturday’s Super Rugby final in Wellington against the Lions could be a classic case of defence versus attack. The resurgent South Africans have advanced to their first Super Rugby final on the back of an all-out attacking style – spearheaded by centre Elton Jantjies – which has seen them score 81 tries so far this year.
Loose forward Brad Shields knows setting the Lions’ big forwards on the back foot and slowing down their ball will be crucial if the Hurricanes are to go one better than they did in last year’s final at Westpac Stadium.
“They are pretty dangerous when they get fast ball and they get a bit of a roll on,” said Shields.
“We’ve got to match it, if not be better than them, to hopefully come out on top and play our game.”