Rugby Union 3 years ago

10 to Watch in 2015

  • 10 to Watch in 2015
  • 10 to Watch in 2015
  • 10 to Watch in 2015
  • 10 to Watch in 2015
  • 10 to Watch in 2015
  • 10 to Watch in 2015
  • 10 to Watch in 2015
  • 10 to Watch in 2015
  • 10 to Watch in 2015
  • 10 to Watch in 2015

Aside from Conrad Smith and Julian Savea who are All Blacks shoe-ins and entertaining to watch on any given night, the Hurricanes have some players, old and new, with a point to prove in 2015.

1. Ma'a Nonu

He's back. Nonu has it all to play for this season as he returns home from largely unsuccessful Super Rugby stints with the Blues and the Highlanders. He will want to reform his ultra-effective midfield partnership with old mate Conrad Smith and keep Sonny Bill Williams from taking his number 12 jersey in the All Blacks in a big year for rugby.

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2. Jeremy Thrush

The rangy lock was a late bloomer to All Blacks rugby but has been a toiler for the Hurricanes for a number of years. However, even though his stocks have risen recently, he'll have his work cut out to make the World Cup squad so needs a big Super Rugby campaign.

3. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen

Big wraps were placed on this guy a couple of seasons ago after he had an impressive season in the front row that earned him an All Blacks training camp spot. However, he never really kicked on. A gifted prop especially with ball in hand, Toomaga-Allen will be looking to recapture that form this season.

4. Ardie Savea

He was the talk of New Zealand rugby after a 2013 ITM Cup which saw him stand out as the best loose forward in the competition at just 19 years of age. Most thought he would carry that form in last years Super Rugby campaign but the step proved a bit too much and he couldn't get a regular starting spot with Jack Lam in such good form. With Lam now overseas, Savea will want to make the position his own.

5. Brad Shields

Another touted as a future All Black but never really living up to expectations. But he's young, he powerful and will want to be talked about in those circles once again.

6. Matt Proctor

This guy has serious pace and can play any of the three-quarter positions and at fullback. He showed glimpses of brilliance in limited game time last year and will be looking to cement a regular spot this season.

7. Cory Jane

With so many excellent outside backs in New Zealand rugby at this point in time and with Jane having been plagued by injury for the past couple of seasons, a big 2015 Super Rugby campaign is needed. He'll want a spot in the World Cup team but more than that, he'll want to recapture the pre-injury form that made him the best wing in the country a few years ago.

8. Nehe Milner-Skudder

The rookie fullback was in the wider training group last year but didn't make an appearance for the Hurricanes. However, he was rewarded for an excellent ITM Cup with Manuwatu with a tour to Japan with the Maori All Blacks. He's quick and explosive but he'll have to keep the likes of Proctor and Jason Woodward from the starting spot.

9. Jason Woodward

Woodward is back from what could only be described as a semi-successful stint with the Melbourne Rebels. While he was solid in an up-and-down team, his experience and goal kicking might just see him start at fullback for the Hurricanes and have a break-out season.

10. Motu Matu'u

This guy will want to nail down the starting hooker spot. It'll be damn tough with All Blacks hooker Dane Coles in front of him but he is a beast with ball in hand and especially on the defensive end. To beat out Coles, he'll need to improve his lineout accuracy and up his work rate.

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