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Hurricanes wary

Friday, March 07, 2014

WELLINGTON, AAP - Playing the Brumbies these days is like facing a South African Super Rugby team, the Hurricanes say.

Except they come with extra bells and whistles.

Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett says last year's beaten finalists present an important measuring stick for his side in Wellington today after starting their season with two losses in South Africa.

They showed improvement throughout a tour which began with a 27-9 thumping from the Sharks before conceding a late try in a 19-18 loss to the Stormers last weekend.

Hammett says the progress made will count for little if they fail to quell a Brumbies side that lost 27-17 at home to the Reds in their opener before dominating the Western Force 27-14 in Perth.

He gave his team six and a half out of 10 for their efforts to date.

"We're not far off. Certainly that second game, we should have won," Hammett said.

"We're under no illusions how important it is to start well at home."

He believes two games in the Republic are ideal ahead of facing the Brumbies given they base their game around forward dominance — a method that proved successful last year under their former South African coach Jake White.

"They're one of the sides from outside of Africa who play a really forward-dominated game and have a great kicking game to match it from nine, 10 and 15," Hammett said.

"But there would be a bit more finesse and a bit more intelligence from backline play to go with that."

The Brumbies, however, will miss Wallabies star flanker David Pocock who's been ruled out for the rest of the Super Rugby season with a recurrence of a knee injury.

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