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Canes expecting rushed defences in 2017

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/02/2017 By Daniel Gilhooly

The Hurricanes' frenetic defence laid the platform for their maiden Super Rugby title.

Now they're expecting everyone else to copy it.

Eleven days out for their season-opener against the Sunwolves in Tokyo, halfback TJ Perenara admits the defending champions will have a "target on their head".

Assistant coach Jason Holland agrees and has no doubt other teams will have spent six months analysing the Hurricanes' methods of 2016.

A varied attack based around first five-eighth Beauden Barrett blended with a fierce rush defence which stymied opponents and invariably created turnovers.

Holland says not only will their rivals concoct ways to break that defence down, they'll mimick the same line speed.

"You've got to keep evolving, I reckon," he said.

"Teams might defend differently so we've got to be ready for that.

"All round the world, who bring line speed are getting results at the moment."

Fresh off a semi-final appearance at the Brisbane Global Tens, the Hurricanes will face the team who eliminated them, the Crusaders, in a final trial at Waverley on Saturday.

It is the first hit-out for the the team's All Blacks tourists, including world player of the year Barrett and his All Blacks halves partner Perenara.

There has been no talk of defending their title, with Perenara suspecting the crown will weigh heavily on them this season.

"It's probably the only thing you do take from being defending champions - having a target on your head the following year," he said.

"You don't have the championship any more.

"All we have is every team wanting to beat us so that's something we want to embrace. It's a challenge we'll have week to week."

The Hurricanes will be without athletic lock Vaea Fifita, who suffered ankle ligament damage at the Tens and is out for a month.

Prop Reggie Goodes won't play either. He hasn't trained since suffering a head knock in the trial win over the Blues on February 5.

Goodes missed the play-offs last year because of concussion.

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