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MX News Update 2024

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Hurricanes prepare to storm in the top-of-the-table Super Rugby showdown

Hurricanes head coach Clark Laidlaw expects a battle royal in the back row when his team faces a trio of All Blacks loose forwards in Saturday’s Super Rugby clash with the Blues.

The Hurricanes head to Auckland’s iconic Eden Park stadium just one point ahead of the second-placed Blues with four rounds remaining in the regular season.

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To add extra spice, the Blues have won all their last seven games since suffering a 29-21 defeat to the Hurricanes in March.

An important match in Auckland will be the division. The Blues have picked a powerful back-row consisting of All Blacks trio Dalton Papali’i, Hoskins Sotutu and Akira Ioane.

Laidlaw knows its loose forwards, Hurricanes captain Brad Shields, live-wire flanker Peter Lakai and No.8 Brayden Iose will not back down.

“It will be a physical battle up front, the breakdown will be hotly contested,” Laidlaw told reporters on Thursday.

He has named six forwards to the Hurricanes bench, including breakdown experts Devan Flanders and Du’Plessis Kirifi, who Laidlaw plans to use as impact players.

“The fact that we have guys like Du’Plessis and Devon really adds to our game.

“I like having a really strong team at the end of the pitch, to keep the momentum and performance going for the full 80 minutes,” Laidlaw added.

Both teams enter the showdown with identical records of nine wins and one loss.

The Hurricanes have not won at Eden Park since 2019.

Hurricanes skipper Shields said having firepower in the back row will help the visitors.

“Having fresh legs available puts emphasis on the fact that our pack is really physical,” he said.

The New Zealand-born England international enjoys playing at Eden Park, which has hosted three Rugby World Cup finals: two men’s and one women’s.

“It’s a fortress and the Blues are very good at it,” Shields added.

“You’ve potentially got some of the best players in the league playing. It’s going to be good rugby.”