Craig Dowd
All Blacks, Samoa should play for Jerry Collins Cup
Craig Dowd
June 10, 2015
Jerry Collins will be sorely missed throughout the rugby community © Getty Images

It has been an eerie, sad sort of week, not only because of Jerry Collins' death but also because of the realisation that we have reached the end of an exciting era of rugby in the Super Rugby competition. There are still play-offs to go, of course, but it will be a much different Super Rugby season next year - not only because of the extended format but also because of the absence of some significant personnel.

Jerry Collins' death came as a complete shock, with the news delivering a reality check that life is so short; it is one of those moments where you get side-swiped. I didn't have a lot to do with Jerry as I had gone overseas when he was in his prime, but it is good to see the world of rugby has rallied around - as it does. And there wouldn't be a more a more fitting way to remember Jerry Collins than for New Zealand to play for the Jerry Collins Cup when the All Blacks face Samoa in Apia on July 8.

I see that Dylan Mika was trying to get Jerry released from his French club, Narbonne, to play for Samoa in the game, and I think such a trophy would be a fitting way to remember the man. The provision of the Jerry Collins Cup would ensure this is not the last Test the All Blacks play against Samoa in Apia; possibly it could be contested every four years because both countries would certainly want to hold that Cup, and it would give more spice to the Test.

Remembering Jerry, the Hurricanes certainly went out and played for a fallen brother when thrashing the Highlanders in Napier on Friday; and that was pleasing for every Hurricanes fan.

Hurricanes 56-20 Highlanders (Australia only)

It is interesting how players react to those sorts of circumstances. In my own experience I had just been named in the All Blacks when one of my best friends died. It occurred when I was going out to play for Auckland, against Hawke's Bay, and my reaction was to go out and honour his memory and to do the best I could possibly do.

I think I scored a try in the first 15 minutes. You go out and play with the energy and aggression that you have, and then you sit down afterwards and the emotion kicks in. You shed a tear afterwards and realise you have lost someone who was pretty important in your life. It's not nice, not for anyone, but I suppose sport reflects life, and everyone is human.

Chiefs are the new Crusaders

It's hard to believe that we have reached the last round of the Super Rugby competition, and the end of the three Conference system. It's a big weekend for a lot of players, especially those not involved in the play-offs, as they end their career in the competition. Most obviously that includes two legends of New Zealand rugby in Dan Carter and Richie McCaw. It has been a unique occurrence to have two players of such class playing at the same time. Both individuals, on their own merits, are wonderful players, but to have two of what will be two of the greatest names the All Blacks have ever had in parallel careers is unprecedented.

But the real interest will be in the Chiefs v Hurricanes game, the Champions v the Contenders. The Chiefs have been there or thereabouts, and it's the old cliche that we used to associate with the Crusaders - that they always stepped up when it came finals time.

The Chiefs lost a controversial clash with the Canes just a few weeks ago © Getty Images

The likes of Liam Messam, and Brodie Retallick, and the crew around them know you can't play the same way that you played in the pool round when you're in a semi-final or final; and this is where the Hurricanes are moving into new territory. They've done really well all year but just doing what they have been doing will not be enough come semi-final time. We saw that with the French in the 2011 Rugby World Cup final. They were a pretty average team throughout the tournament but fantastic come the final, when it's only 80 minutes. You leave it all out there, and that is very much what the next week is going to pose for these guys.

There are match-ups through both teams, but Sonny Bill Williams against Ma'a Nonu has a special flavour. Then there's Augustine Pulu against TJ Perenara, and Conrad Smith against Charlie Ngatai.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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