Hammett reads Hurricanes riot act
May 7, 2013
Conrad Smith has been ruled out of the Cheetahs match with concussion © Getty Images
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett has let rip at his players in unprecedented fashion after their thrashing at the hands of the Bulls and is demanding better on South Africa's highveld this week.
The Hurricane's 48-14 loss at Pretoria on Sunday (NZT) was heaviest for eight years, prompting Hammett to read the riot act during their video review session ahead of Saturday's match against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
"The first 20 minutes was hard work for everyone to look through. It was well below the standard we expect of this team," third-year coach Hammett said. "It was a pretty honest and tough review to go through and it would be fair to say that it's the most animated I've been since I've been at the Hurricanes."
Only twice have the Hurricanes been beaten by more: A 60-7 loss to the Blues in 2002 and 47-7 loss to the Crusaders in a 2005 semi-final.
Their tactic of spreading the ball deep inside their own territory backfired in Pretoria, gifting the Bulls two intercept tries. However, it was the set piece work and the team's inability to retain possession that most annoyed Hammett as they sunk to a fifth loss from 10 matches.
Several young players making their debut at the daunting Loftus Versfeld had "blank faces" at times, Hammett said, and will be better for the experience. He expected improvement against a Cheetahs side ranked five spots higher in sixth place.
The hosts have experienced their best start to a season, winning seven of 10 games. They are coming off the bye without standout flanker Pieter Labuschagne due to his elbow injury.
Hammett said captain Conrad Smith was playing a key role in strategy this week, having been ruled out with concussion. Smith had decided to continue his recovery under the eye of the team doctor rather than return home.
"Conrad's the captain of the Hurricanes and he's very well respected," Hammett said. "Obviously there's going to be a new player filling his No.13 jersey and what better way to help that person than having the best centre in the world helping out."