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Hurricanes target Folau-focused Waratahs

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 8/07/2016 Daniel Gilhooly
<span style="font-size:13px;">Stopping Waratahs star back Israel Folau begins with chopping down some of his team-mates says Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd.</span> © AP Photo/Christophe Ena Stopping Waratahs star back Israel Folau begins with chopping down some of his team-mates says Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd.

Israel Folau isn't the only Waratah in the Hurricanes' defensive cross-hairs as they prepare for a momentous Super Rugby clash in Sydney.

Careful analysis of the Sydneysiders has broken down their attacking methods, much of which is directed towards giving space to brilliant Wallabies back Folau.

Coach Chris Boyd says while the Hurricanes back their own attacking weapons to give the Waratahs problems on Saturday, he has spent much of his week fine-tuning the defensive structure.

"If you look at the way the Waratahs play and the positions they put Israel Folau in, there's no doubt he is more dangerous from broken play," Boyd said.

"They're clever the way they put him into positions that they want to, to get the most out of his game."

Boyd also pointed to statistics which show flanker Michael Hooper and lock Will Skelton are among the most effective attacking players in their positions in Super Rugby.

He says their involvement, often in the backline, and the go-forward they can generate is influential.

"There's 3-4 guys who are pretty dominant in their game offensively. You'd be stupid to ignore guys like Hooper and Skelton who do a lot for them."

Boyd says he doesn't need to say much to motivate his players, with their season at a potential cross-roads with two rounds remaining.

Fourth overall and just three points behind the competition-leading Lions, they could yet match their top-qualifying achievement from last year.

Yet if they lose in Sydney, they are under threat to miss the play-offs completely, with the Waratahs potentially the team to snatch a wildcard spot from them.

Boyd doesn't want to contemplate playing away to the Crusaders in the final round next week if their season is on the line.

He suspects the in-form Waratahs will throw everything at a game which is pivotal in their race for Australian conference honours against co-leaders the Brumbies.

"At the end of the day, they're desperate, we're as keen as and we're in their patch.

"They've become a handful, particularly at the back end of the season. They had a pretty soft start to the season and they're chock-full of Wallabies so they're a tough assignment for us."

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