While a Super 14 title has evaded the Wellington outfit they have been in the playoffs three times in the last four years and in 2006 they were runners-up in the first Super 14 championship.
For most of Super Rugby history the Hurricanes has possessed, on paper at least, arguably the strongest team in the Super 14.
Coach Colin Cooper again has typically star-studded squad that we come to expect from the franchise that has brandished some of the finest players in world rugby, including Christian Cullen, Jonah Lomu and former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga.
The 2009 Hurricanes squad boasts no fewer than 13 All Blacks and the set-piece and pack, long regarded as the weak point, is no longer a concern for the faithful.
Andrew Hore and Neemia Tialata are both starting All Blacks and will be backed up by future All Black Dane Coles and vastly experienced props John Schwalger, Tim Fairbrother and Jacob Ellison.
The Hurricanes’ game plan is based around their mobile pack and dynamic ball-carrying loose forwards. With a pack made up almost entirely of All Blacks, the Wellington-based side could be a major threat in 2009.
Strengths: Their strengths are their mobile pack and dynamic ball-carrying loose forwards. While the midfield combination of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith can cause major problems on attack.
Weakness: Inconsistency! That and ill-discipline have been the besetting sins of the Hurricanes and the great hindrance to their greatness. As devastating as their midfield attack can be they have been know to miss crucial tackles on defence and is that is often where they lose close games.
Noteworthy signings: Jason Kawau (Highlanders), David Smith (Blues)
Noteworthy losses: Jimmy Gopperth (Blues), Thomas Waldrom (Crusaders), Jerry Collins (Toulon), Chris Masoe (Castres)
Coach: Colin Cooper specialises in forward play. He has turned of the top teams in the competition and took them all the way to the Finals – in 2006. Unfortunately he was not able to repeat that success last year.
Captain: Rodney So’oialo is a hard playing No.8 with the size, speed and skill to play anywhere in the back row. Renowned for his exceptional fitness, the former New Zealand Sevens representative can be counted on to lead from the front.
Player(s) to watch: The pack is undoubtedly the Hurricanes’ strength therefore hooker Andrew Hore will be one of the key men in the engine room along with captain So’oialo in the back row.
2008 Position: 4th
Best finish: 2nd (beaten finalists) in 2006, 3rd in Super 12 in 1997 and 2003
Worst finish: 11th in Super 12 in 2004
Home Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington (capacity 34,500)
2009 Prediction: The ‘Canes has the potential to seriously challenge for dominance in this year’s tournament but their reputation suggests they will fall at the final hurdle and finish second.
Hurricanes squad: John Schwalger, Neemia Tialata, Jacob Ellison, Tim Fairbrother, Andrew Hore, Dane Coles, Jason Eaton, Jeremy Thrush, Bryn Evans, Api Naikatini, Faifili Levave, Scott Waldrom, Karl Lowe, Victor Vito, Rodney So’oialo, Josh Bradnock, Alby Mathewson, Piri Weepu, Willie Ripia, Dan Kirkpatrick, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Jason Kawau, Tamati Ellison, Hosea Gear, David Smith, Zac Guildford, Cory Jane
Saturday, February 14: v Waratahs, home
Friday, February 20: v Highlanders, home
Friday, February 27: v Crusaders, away
Saturday, March 07: v Cheetahs home
Friday, March 20: v Bulls home
Saturday, March 28: Lions, away
Friday, April 03: v Sharks, away
Friday, April 10: v Western Force, away
Saturday, April 18: v Stormers, home
Saturday, April 25: v Brumbies, home
Friday, May 0: v Blues, home
Saturday, May 09: v Chiefs, away
Saturday, May 16: v Reds, away
Courtesy of Rugby 365Tweet