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Travel factor dismissed by Hurricanes

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 26/07/2016

He won't go so far as calling it a myth but Hurricanes fullback James Marshall believes the impact of travel in Super Rugby is overstated.

In a time-honoured tradition, the discrepancies between home and visiting teams has come under the play-off spotlight.

By finishing as top qualifiers, the Hurricanes are guaranteed three successive home games if they reach the final.

It so happens that all three will be against opponents who have travelled from South Africa in the days beforehand, including the Chiefs for this Saturday's semi-final.

History heavily favours the home team in such games but Marshall believes the improved methods used by travelling teams has reduced its negative consequences.

"I don't think it affects you on game day but it affects your preparation," Marshall said.

"You've got a shorter week, you're tired up until Thursday or Friday, but once you get to the game, I don't think it really affects you."

Marshall fully expects the Chiefs to unleash their high-octane style in Wellington, led by mercurial opposite number Damian McKenzie, who scored 25 points in their 60-21 quarter-final rampage against the Stormers in Cape Town.

Marshall, who was as efficient as ever in a 41-0 whitewash of the Sharks, expects a colourful spectacle.

"The Chiefs looked awfully impressive. They played their style and the Stormers couldn't really keep with them.

"I thought we played well too so it's going to be a hell of a match."

Marshall can understand why Hurricanes supporters are on tenterhooks over the fitness of captain Dane Coles. The All Blacks hooker is in doubt after suffering rib cartilage damage against the Sharks.

However, he reminded fans of how the Hurricanes were written off pre-season following the loss of five All Blacks, including midfield greats Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

"Colesy's massive for our team so (if fit) it would be a big lift for the team," he said.

"But people have been saying that we're missing people all year, people like Nonu and Smith, and we've had guys step up and prove that a team is more than one player."

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