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Super Rugby Preview: Final

Steve Hansen

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen is expecting a ‘brutal’ encounter when the Hurricanes host the Highlanders for the 2015 Super Rugby final.

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen is expecting a ‘brutal’ encounter when the Hurricanes host the Highlanders for the 2015 Super Rugby final.

Neither side have ever lifted the trophy before but few can complain that these are the two best sides of this campaign that have made it to the showpiece event.

The Hurricanes, who topped the regular season table, finished off the Brumbies in their semi-final while the Highlanders provided a tactical masterclass to see off the defending champions the Waratahs.

Hansen will be watching the match with his fingers crossed with a World Cup on the horizon this autumn.

But with the two most potent attacking sides in the competition facing off, there are sure to be fireworks.

“It's going to be a real brutal game," said Hansen. "Whilst I'm excited about it being two New Zealand teams, there is a little bit of holding your breath

“You don't want any of those young men to get injured – or anyone for that matter – but not the 17 because they are earmarked to come in and play some of these Test matches that we've got to play before we go to the World Cup.

"There's no way you can expect anyone to hold back. You can't. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for both teams. The emotion of it will play a big part."

While the Hurricanes topped the try count this season – one ahead of the Highlanders – their defence was equally impressive as they were second best to the Brumbies side in the regular season. 

The Highlanders had the worst defensive record of the top six qualifiers but have since conceded only three tries as they outsmarted the Chiefs and the Waratahs in the playoffs.

And defence coach Scott McLeod said they had a ‘big day’ on Tuesday working on a strategy to counter the Hurricanes.

"They've got threats across the park. You give them too much space and they will make the most of that with their running, offloading and continuity play. So we need to be able to shut that all down," said McLeod.

All Black Cory Jane is unavailable through injury for the ‘Canes who are also sweating on the fitness of openside flanker Ardie Savea.

The Highlanders meanwhile are unchanged from the team that comprehensively saw off the Tahs in Sydney last time out.

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