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Hurricanes happy with early season road trip

A win in Eketahuna against the Crusaders on Saturday was a great way to top off the Hurricanes’ eight-day camp across the East Coast and Tararua.

The full squad and management team spent a week together on the East Coast last week, training, learning, and discovering what their teammates were all about.

The bonding time seemed to show in the weekend, with the Hurricanes putting in a solid preseason performance to beat the Crusaders 41-31, and retain The Big Tui Cup.

While the majority of the Canes’ time was spent in Gisborne last week, it was a trip up the East Coast to Ruatoria which was a highlight for many.

For Hurricanes James Broadhurst, Blade Thomson and Nehe Milner-Skudder, the trip was a chance to reconnect with their roots, and spend some time with the locals who clearly take pride in what their rugby heroes have achieved.

Having not visited the East Coast since 2009, the team were humbled by the response they received during the week.

Hurricane John Schwalger said although the week was a tiring one, the team had enjoyed every minute.

“Good people, good weather, good food – especially that hangi – there’s not too much to complain about,” he said.

Hurricanes chief executive James Te Puni said when he arrived on the East Coast last Tuesday, he was thrilled with the way the team had bonded with the local people.

“A number of guys commented on the special honour of being formally welcomed on to Te Poho o Rawiri Marae, and being based across the road from the beach meant the team could experience a lot of what the wonderful region has to offer.”

On a personal note, Te Puni said being able to visit his home of Ruatoria with the team was by far a highlight.

“And that’s not just because of the hangi lunch,” he said.

“The welcome was warm and the whole Hurricanes team trained on Whakarua Park for the first time in our 20 year history - next time it will be a preseason game! When you have teachers and parents driving up to 90mins to experience the day, you know the trip up is worthwhile.”

The Hurricanes wish to thank everyone at both Poverty Bay Rugby and Ngati Porou Rugby, who put so much work into making them welcome up there, along with the local people for embracing the team.

A big thanks must also go to Tui, for the huge effort that went into making the preseason match at Eketahuna RFC such a huge success.

“A great crowd and a preseason win over the Crusaders was the ideal way to end the Canes’ eight- day road trip,” Te Puni said.