The Hurricanes may have killed three birds with one stone in beating fellow New Zealanders the Auckland Blues 39-20 in Wellington.
Firstly, the win was their third in a row, the fourth for the season.
Secondly, the win seems to have knocked league superstar Benji Marshall out of rugby union, meaning he may soon return to league in Australia. It is understood that Blues coach Sir John Kirwan told Marshall to either play lower-grade rugby or return to league.
Thirdly, Kirwin himself may be told to look for another job at the end of the year, as the Blues continue to play poorly.
Marshall has asked his manager Martin Tauber to begin negotiations with league clubs.
“It just hasn’t worked out,” Tauber said, adding that Marshall had been given little game time.
Injured Blues half-back Piri Weepu said his team-mates were “in cruise mode” and needed to “look at themselves” then decide “whether they actually want to be in the team or not”.
He said the Blues had performed well for only about 20 minutes during the first 10 rounds.
Weepu underwent heart surgery three weeks ago after suffering a minor stroke.
The shock reduced Weepu to tears. The former All Black rang his mother to inform her.
“She gave me a bit of stick, actually,” said Weepu, who is known for his love of food, which has seen him struggle with his weight in the past.
Weepu is expected to play on Saturday.
Hurricanes Finals Bound?
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes are looking like finals contenders.
The backs are clicking, and look like capturing the form that made them one of the great running sides in Super rugby.
Half-back TJ Perenara was outstanding, as was inside-centre Alapati Leiua, who has converted from wing.
Fly-half Beauden Barrett directed play faultlessly, adding intelligence to his all-round abilities.
Barrett looks like being the NZ fly-half, when the All Blacks meet England at home in June. Incumbent fly-half Dan Carter is being rested and his back-up Aaron Cruden is injured.
Before the season Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett said his back-line could match any Test side. The game against the Blues proved he is right.
Other backs include the great All Black centre Conrad Smith, fellow All Blacks Cory Jane and Julian Savea, and Maori All Black Andre Taylor, all of whom are playing well.
But the surprise is the forwards. Despite injuries, they look capable of matching most sides, with lock James Broadhurst and flanker Jack Lam leading the way.
Force Fail Against Rebels and other Results
The record breaking Force lost 16-22 to fellow Australians the Melbourne Rebels, forgoing the chance to top the Australian conference.
The loss was a credit to both sides, with the Force showing the energy-sapping effects of several tough matches.
Meanwhile, the slow-starting Crusaders beat current champions the Chiefs 18-17, with fly-half Colin Slade making his claim for national selection by scoring all the Crusader’s points, while missing only one of ten tackles.
Jake White’s Sharks struggled at home in Durban to beat fellow South Africans the Cheetahs 19-8.
Purists could fault the table-topping Sharks, but White said “sometimes you have to win ugly”.
The word ugly is un-needed to describe the return to rugby of former league star Israel Folau, who was controversially banned from playing by the Australian Rugby Union, which ruled he had failed to recover from a throat injury.
Both the Waratahs and Folau protested the ruling, which had kept him side-lined a week earlier.
Proving his point, Folau scored unopposed after only 28 seconds in Sydney. Though he rarely touched the ball again, the Waratahs beat the Bulls 19-12. In the process, they regained fourth-place in the standings ahead of the Rebels, who beat them the week prior.