Colin Cooper, New Zealand’s most experienced Super 14 coach, wants an expanded championship and a conference system to overcome the sort of situation his side had to battle on Good Friday in Perth.
The Canes scored two tries in the final five minutes to claim a vital 28-27 win over the Western Force that has kept them in the playoffs mix.
But having his team go into the game with just one training run and still suffering flight fatigue has left Cooper frustrated.
“They need another team and conferences,” said Cooper as Sanzar continues to eye its options for revamping the championship. “The travel is just too hard. I believe this game should have been Saturday night or Sunday.
“To arrive from South Africa on Tuesday and have one training run and try to get over that time zone and play on Friday was really, really tough.
“I know the game was supposed to be Sunday. How it got to Friday and slipped under the radar a little bit was a bit disappointing.
“My players were really, really struggling to get back into the time zone and we should be treated a bit better than that really.”
Duncan Johnstone writes in the Sunday Star Times that Cooper, who has been involved in the tournament for eight years, believes super rugby isn’t doing itself justice for a championship of its stature.
Having teams regularly travelling halfway across the bottom of the globe was a real problem. Playing in conferences would help alleviate that.
“I know everyone has to do it but I think it is unacceptable,” Cooper says of the travel that frequently throws up quirks in the draw.
He pointed to the Cheetahs, who had to wait eight weeks before they got a home fixture this season.
“It’s a bit unrealistic to have these players performing to the level they are supposed to be performing. I don’t think any other teams in any other competition have to put up with this travel factor.
“That then becomes a mental factor and that’s why everyone is knocking everyone over. It’s such a mental game.”
He praised his team for overcoming the obstacles and holding its composure to get up and beat the Force.”We got taken to pieces in that first half; we were all over the place. We had to have some hard words and I give a lot of credit to my leaders. They made some good decisions in the second half. We are growing there and in the past we may have faltered under these circumstances.”
With two wins from three matches on the road, the Hurricanes now have a run of three home games. “We are pleased to get the points,” Cooper said. “We are in a good position now if we can capitalise on it. This has put us on a good launching pad.”
The travel problems continue though: the Hurricanes had to return from Perth in two groups. They get back into physical training on Wednesday to tackle the Stormers in Wellington on Saturday.Tweet