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Ieremia defends under fire Hurricanes coaches

Hurricanes coaches Mark Hammett (L) and Alama Ieremia (R)

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Article Published: Sunday 9 March 2014|

Assistant coach Alama Ieremia has defended the Hurricanes coaching staff and said that basic skills rather than the game-plan have been the reasons for their winless start to the Super Rugby season.

The Hurricanes had a tough start to the Super Rugby season with two matches on tour in South Africa but when they returned home they lost to 21-29 to the Brumbies.

The former All Black midfielder has admitted that he was "embarrassed" as he watched the Hurricanes lose to the Brumbies at home in Wellington.

Ieremia played 42 times for the Hurricanes and has been an assistant coach with the team since 2012.

"It just wasn't good enough. I was furious and it's not good enough for this team, or the Hurricanes brand. I was embarrassed by what I saw," the Hurricanes backs coach told Stuff.

"We need to find the answers as to why we put in a performance like that. It's unacceptable, it's disappointing, that's how I feel about it ... it was the most disappointing performance since I've been coach."

Head coach Mark Hammett has come in for heavy criticism after the team's third straight loss this season and their eighth in a row in Super Rugby but Ieremia says that Hammett has his and the team's full backing.

There have been allegations that the Hurricanes have become too structured but Ieremia does not agree with this.

"If anything, it seemed like a performance where we went back to what the old Hurricanes teams used to do by trying to go out of system and try to fix things individually. The error rate was a step backwards.

"That wasn't how we prepared to play and we had a good preparation. It's about finding answers, asking the questions as to why. We need to find a solution to why we were so out of sync."

When asked why a backline filled with internationals and stars such as TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Conrad Smith, Cory Jane and Julian Savea look pedestrian Ieremia said turnovers are blunting their effectiveness.

"We used to pride ourselves on building phases and building pressure, but there were 15 occasions in the (Brumbies) match where there were five or more phases and we only had four of them ... of those four opportunities where we built multiple phases, we got three penalties and a try.

"If you look at the stats, we just haven't been able to build phases and maintain the ball for any period of time this season. Historically, the more pressure we build, the better the backline will function, and at the moment we just aren't getting that.

"We haven't given our attacking structure a chance ... Even in Africa when we maintained our structure, we created scoring opportunities."

"We just aren't creating enough because of those inconsistencies."

Ieremia also had to defend young rookie Cardiff Vaega who came into the team when second five eighth when Hadleigh Parkes pulled out of the match with a shoulder injury.

"Cardiff's selection was a disruption ... but it wasn't the reason why we malfunctioned ... It doesn't matter what the opposition were on the weekend because we were beating ourselves with the way we played.

"We played silly football when we didn't have the platform to work off. When we needed kick the ball, we ran it and when we needed to hold the ball and build phases, we decided to kick. "

"Our game management was all over the place on the weekend and we need to find answers. "Turnovers are putting our defence under enormous pressure. If you don't maintain ball and give away ball, the defence is always going to be under the pump."

The Hurricanes are at home again this weekend and face a must win match against South African side the Cheetahs who lost 43-33 to the Reds in Brisbane in Round 4.

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