Rugby News

Rugby-NZ derbies taking their toll on players: Hurricanes' Holland

WELLINGTON, July 10 (Reuters) - The constant stream of New Zealand derbies in Super Rugby Aotearoa is taking a heavy physical toll on players, and teams are having to prioritize recovery during the week, Wellington Hurricanes coach Jason Holland has said.

New Zealand’s five Super Rugby teams are playing each other in a 10-week competition set up after the wider Super Rugby tournament, which also involves teams from Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Japan, was halted due to COVID-19.

The strength of New Zealand rugby means there are no easy games and coaches are having to manage workloads during the week to give players a chance of getting back on the field for the next match.

“It’s pretty physical,” Holland told reporters on Friday.

“Our guys are getting to Wednesday and are still a bit sore. So we’re having to manage our week, manage their recovery and that becomes key.”

The Hurricanes claimed their first victory of the competition last week, a 25-18 win over the Waikato Chiefs in Hamilton, and will be full of confidence when they host the Otago Highlanders on Sunday.

However, that win came at a cost with Holland forced to make three changes to his starting forward pack with hooker Dane Coles, prop Fraser Armstrong and loose forward Reed Prinsep all injured.

The calf injury suffered by Coles was of particular concern as a similar issue last year had pushed him to thoughts of retirement.

“When you hear that ‘Colesy’ had a twinged calf it was a little bit niggly,” Holland added. “But ... he’s running and doing everything else so we’re not stressed about it.”

Holland expected to rotate his team during their run of four successive matches, especially up front, and he had no issues with Asafo Aumua replacing Coles.

“We recognised that this would be a tough four-week block for us,” he said.

“(With) our three hookers ... we don’t lose too much with any of them so we knew that we would probably use all three in those four games.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford