WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Wellington Hurricanes assistant coach Cory Jane said on Monday he would have stayed out of Ngani Laumape’s way and opted for self-preservation after the inside centre’s stellar performance in Super Rugby Aotearoa over the weekend.
Laumape was at his best in the Hurricanes’ 29-27 victory over the Auckland Blues on Saturday with two storming runs through Otere Black and Beauden Barrett bringing the crowd to their feet and boosting his chances of making the All Blacks.
“I’d probably do what Beaudy did,” Jane said with his typical self-deprecating humour when asked what he would have done had he faced Laumape.
“I’d be thinking ‘I’m not dealing with this today. I have got more games in my career that I want to play’ and I would have moved out of the way.”
Laumape’s performance garnered praise from fans, pundits and former players and elevated his standing in the conversation of who would make Ian Foster’s first All Blacks squad next month.
It was a far cry from one columnist’s assertion last week that his direct style of play meant he was one-dimensional and unlikely to add to his 13 test caps, something Laumape said after the game had motivated him.
Jane, however, said that Laumape was comparable to All Blacks’ great Ma’a Nonu, who faced similar judgements throughout his early career.
“Ma’a became one of the best passing 12s in world rugby but it also took a little bit of time for him to understand his game,” said Jane, a Hurricanes and All Blacks teammate of Nonu.
“(Laumape) is trying to figure out his game,” said Jane. “He can pass and kick (but) ... if you want somebody to run hard and commit defenders then he’s your guy.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa