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Hair-raising barbs, Blues blows: Five Super Rugby talking points

Stormers' fly-half Damian Willemse runs with the ball against the Hurricanes in Cape Town last weekend. ©AFP

Wellington (AFP) - Wellington Hurricanes travel to Buenos Aires to face the Jaguares this weekend after a drubbing in Cape Town, while the Auckland Blues have a mini-injury crisis just a week into the new campaign.

Here are five talking points ahead of this weekend's second round of the Super Rugby 2020 season:

Stormers in eye of a Hurricane

The Wellington Hurricanes have reminded Western Stormers about people in a "glass house" not throwing stones, after the South African side's coach John Dobson raised hackles by saying the Hurricanes had indulged in hair-pulling and cheap shots in Cape Town last weekend. 

The Stormers crushed the Canes 27-0 in a match that included two yellow cards for the visitors and an off-the-ball tackle that left World Cup winning Springboks captain Siya Kolisi with a torn knee ligament.

"Pieter-Steph (du Toit) went through quite a hard time (and) there was one movement where Seabelo Senatla's hair is pulled twice.We weren't happy with that game at all, lots of stuff happened on the field," said Dobson.

But Hurricanes assistant coach Chris Gibbes hit back in Buenos Aires, where his side play the Jaguares next."It's a pretty big glass house there to be honest," he said.

"There are a few clips that we've looked at -- TJ (Perenara) getting tackled off the ball, head shots and guys getting their head hit.

"I don't know where he's coming from with that.He's entitled to his opinion, but it's a bit surprising, and a bit disappointing," said Gibbes.

Injuries sting the Blues

The luckless Auckland Blues have been dealt a triple injury blow after their opening defeat to Waikato Chiefs, including a broken hand for All Blacks winger Rieko Ioane.

The Blues have been bottom of the New Zealand conference for the past six seasons but looked much-improved in the 29-37 loss to the Chiefs.

But it came at a cost and the Blues said Ioane, who scored two tries, will be sidelined "for several weeks".

Hooker Ray Niuia suffered a season-ending knee injury that will require surgery while prop Alex Hodgman tore a calf muscle.

The depleted Blues face the NSW Waratahs in Newcastle on Saturday.

Rebels pack pays the price

Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels has reshaped his forwards pack ahead of facing the ACT Brumbies this weekend after admitting his team "let each other down" in their shock opening 36-27 defeat to Japan's Sunwolves in Fukuoka.

Wessels complained the Rebels were "a good team that played badly".

"We feel like we have let each other down to be honest and that's a good thing, maybe we didn't have enough of that last week."

He defiantly added that "Super Rugby is not won in round one" as he axed two-thirds of his front row, with Matt Gibbon coming in for Fereti Sa'aga and Ruan Smith taking over from Jermaine Ainsley while experienced former Brumbies and Waratahs flanker Michael Wells takes over at number seven from Rob Leota.

Rare win, Sunwolves style

Japan's Sunwolves sit atop the Australian conference after one week of their farewell season in Super Rugby, but a quirk of the fixture list means their multicultural squad will lose the chance to keep the momentum going this week as they have a bye.

It's pity for the hastily-cobbled together squad who fielded only three Japanese players in the starting side as they shocked the fancied the Melbourne Rebels 36-27 in Fukuoka last weekend. 

They made up the numbers with a committed band of nomads from Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa, Tonga and Georgia who had trained together for less than a month. 

"We only assembled four weeks ago," said Australian-born Jake Schatz, captain of the perennial strugglers who recorded only two wins in the whole of the 2019 campaign among a total of eight wins since joining in 2016.

"One of the great things about this team are the different cultures, attitudes and beliefs.We may have different backgrounds but we want to play the Sunwolves style with ball in hand and everyone has bought into it."

Bulls want to win 'patience game'

The Northern Bulls haven't won in Cape Town since 2011, but scrum-half Ivan van Zyl says patience will be key to ending their drought against the Western Stormers on Saturday.

The Bulls were edged 23-15 in their opener against the Coastal Sharks in Durban last week."We're disappointed in the way we lost, we threw it away a bit, making silly mistakes," said Van Zyl.

"The Sharks won the patience game last weekend and pinned us in our own half," he said.

"We know that will be the focus of the Stormers as well.You need to be in the right areas to score points and that is what we need to get right on Saturday."

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