The Dom-Post has written an open letter to Hurricanes rugby coach Mark "Hammer" Hammett. It begins thus:
It must almost be time to say sorry Mr Hammett.Sorry for all the sledging, the put-downs, the Facebook page dedicated to trying to run you out of the capital.Sorry we all doubted you when you showed former Hurricanes heroes Andrew Hore and Ma'a Nonu the door.Sorry we cursed you for allowing Piri Weepu and Hosea Gear to slip away from the franchise.But now we must thank you – for one of the great highlights of not only the weekend, but the season, the year, the decade, even the Hurricanes' history.Saturday night's 23-22 win over the Crusaders was not supposed to happen.The Crusaders were just meant to turn up and run right over the top of this young rabble from Wellington.After all, they had done it a few months before and surely, surely the Hurricanes could not be competitive without Victor Vito, TJ Perenara and Cory Jane, even if the Crusaders were missing Dan Carter, Israel Dagg and Kieran Read.You can talk about complacency, rustiness and any other excuse the Crusaders might have for their slip-up in the Christchurch chilly bin but you have to give credit to Mr Hammett.He "worked bloody hard" formulating a plan to keep the Hurricanes in playoff contention in the three-week international break, according to Captain Conrad, arguably the most inspirational player in the country. Yes, Mr McCaw included.The way the Hurricanes rise to his call has been sensational, just like his form.
It has certainly been a year of redemption for the Hurricanes. As of the close of the penultimate round of regular season matches, they sit eight on the table, with 53 points. But a win over the Chiefs in Wellington next weekend could propel them as high as third, if they can eke out a bonus point.
One would never have picked it, especially in the season opener against the Stormers in Cape Town where the old hoary chesnet of indiscipline suggested that nothing had changed from 2011. But this team is made of stronger stuff.
There is some phenomenal young talent emerging in Hurricanes country, and a clearing of the decks was needed. The only regert that Hammett and his backroom staffers now have is that the desire for change wasn't sold well enough, and that they he didn't take the fans with him. But the fans are slowly returning, and we're sure they will fill the Cake Tin for the final regular season fixture.