Vodacom Super 14

Part 1: Q and A with Cory Jane

2010-03-11 07:45
Cory Jane (File)
Cape Town - In the first of a two-part interview, chief writer Rob Houwing grills popular Hurricanes and All Blacks backline star CORY JANE on issues including the hiding in Bloemfontein last Saturday, the change to Super 15 next season, and New Zealand’s staging of the World Cup in 2011 …

Is it accurate to say the Hurricanes will be “stung into action” against the Stormers at Newlands, considering your humbling at the hands of the Cheetahs?

Oh yeah. We were our own worst enemies in many ways … dropping the ball, doing passes we shouldn’t have, when that wasn’t our game-plan on the day. You also can’t win a game when you give away that many penalties and the odd yellow card – especially over here, where you have so many blokes who can kick from anywhere on the park! We wanted to take the fizz out of them quickly, because we knew they’d be firing after defeat to the Highlanders; instead those penalties quickly put us on the back foot. It just lifted them and made it a tough day at the office for us. We’ve got to be more disciplined and smart at Newlands.

Did you get the old riot act from coach Colin Cooper?

The coach will obviously say things but I’m also a great believer in players taking responsibility, as we’re the ones executing plans on the field. A lot (of soul-searching) comes from senior players … you’ve got Andrew Hore and Ma’a (Nonu) and Rodney (So’oialo) and when they say things you certainly listen. I think the boys respond when one of them suggests something needs to be a bit better, out where it counts.

The Stormers and Hurricanes seem to have much in common … strong support bases, a commitment to good rugby, yet this Saturday might also be viewed as a clash of the perennial “under-achievers” of the Super 14. Do you agree?

Yeah, that’s fair comment. But the Stormers are generally considered one of the hardest (non-New Zealand) teams to play. They travel pretty comfortably and always try to use the ball. Last year the Bulls kicked a lot more; that worked for them. But the Stormers have added a couple of big names to their backline, which suggests they don’t want to change their own style. Bryan (Habana) coming here, Chavhanga going up to the Lions … it’s hard to keep up with player moves in South Africa sometimes! And I thought their forwards fronted up against the Highlanders; showed they can certainly muscle it up these days. It’ll be pretty packed at Newlands, and it’s one of those grounds where the crowd feels as if it’s right over you. But we get a lot of support in Cape Town too … we were reminded of that at training this week.

Do you hope the ‘Canes never abandon their attacking rugby style, in favour of a more conservative approach to finally lift the silverware, maybe?

The fatties up front might like that, but I think overall you want to keep the ball in hand and have fun. I hope we don’t ever get stuck into a boring sort of game-plan, just booting it up. It’s not like our forwards aren’t involved … they pretty much won us the opening game against the Blues.

Are you comfortable with your own versatility at present, being mostly fullback for the Hurricanes and right wing for the All Blacks?

To play for the All Blacks I’d happily play anywhere. But fullback would probably always be my preference. It just feels like you can get involved more; if you’re on either wing you’re more likely to get hemmed in a bit or distanced from (the action). From a counter-attacking point of view you’re more of an influential link, and I like that. There’s more responsibility at fifteen.

Versatility can seem a curse at times, thinking of the struggling Sharks, where Frans Steyn has quit the franchise and people like Ruan Pienaar and John Smit have been dragged between positions with limited success … do you see it as an issue?

In certain positions the phenomenon could be a little (unsettling). I think the inter-change between fullback and wing isn’t such a big deal. There are plenty of blokes in those positions who can adjust easily to both jobs, as they should. But if you’re talking about a bloke who can play second five eighth (inside centre in New Zealand parlance – Sport24) or flyhalf, or a flanker who can double as a lock, then you may suddenly find you can’t get starts … you may be considered useful to have on the bench! Ruan playing 10, then suddenly nine … it must get difficult for a bloke like that. Back home someone like (Isaia) Toeava can play just about any position in the backline, but it can mean you don’t have a main position, which isn’t always ideal.

What are your thoughts on the various law tweaks? Have they improved the spectacle this season?

I think so, mostly. I can’t think there are many people who genuinely enjoy 12-9 games, four penalties to three. You want to see a few tries. Maybe the bloody forwards preferred it last year … defence, defence! But I think getting backs into space is a key feature of successful rugby. Last year you’d get the ball but there’d be this big wall in front of you. So I like (the alterations) … even if maybe they’re still fine-tuning the correct mix.

Do you like the change of format to Super 15 next year, with three initial pools and more emphasis on domestic derbies early on?

Yeah, I just know we’ll play the home sides more at the start. And a lot of the guys don’t like the travel that much. It should make it a better competition. Under the present format South African teams do have it harder than New Zealand teams … they have to sometimes leave for five, six weeks. And it must get (messy) if perhaps you’re not playing well anyway and the tour drags on and on for you. You’re never going to win ‘em all at the best of times. But you should have quality games every week under the new system … let’s see what happens.

As a current All Black, is it impossible for you not to be thinking ahead excitedly to 2011, and a World Cup on your own soil?

Well, I’m not a guaranteed bloke for New Zealand like the Carters and McCaws of the world! I’ve got to ensure my spot through Super 14 performance. I still think of it as a couple of years away. A lot can happen. I think my wife frets about the World Cup more than me, at this point … she really wants me to get there.

Will New Zealand deliver a quality tournament?

Oh yeah, I think so. They’re working very hard on it. We’re a little country as well, so it means a lot. And the stadiums aren’t so big, as you know … so you should get good crowds in with so many visitors expected as well. And of course with our (poor recent RWC record) people can’t help thinking: we’re at home finally, so we should win this one.

*In part two on Friday, Jane will talk about lifestyle matters, like the pros and cons of touring South Africa, shark cage-diving … and his obsession with Twitter. Don’t miss it!


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