Hurricanes Super Rugby captain Conrad Smith has hit back at his team's critics as they have secured back to back victories over former Champions.
The Hurricanes followed up their 26-29 victory over the Crusaders in Christchurch with a 25-20 win over the Bulls in Wellington.
Smith has stopped short of labeling his Hurricanes team as a success but he does hope that their past two results have shown their critics some positives.
"You don't have to go back far to where we were copping a lot of criticism, which I thought was unfair at the time, but we knew, we had a lot of faith in ourselves," said Smith.
"We stuck to what we were doing and we've reaped the rewards," the Hurricanes captain told Fairfax.
The Hurricanes recent success has moved them up to second in the New Zealand conference and up to eighth place overall ahead of their match against the Blues in Wellington on Friday April the 18th.
Smith said that the criticism and vitriol that was directed at coach Mark Hammett and the team after they lost their season opening matches against the Sharks, Stormers and Brumbies, had been "over the top".
"The good thing was we had a lot of experience in the team to deal with it. For me there was probably only 20 minutes out of those three games where we let ourselves down. "
"There was actually still a lot of good stuff," Smith said.
"Looking back, it was a really tough start. Playing the Sharks first up when they'd already had a game, then a Brumbies side who I think we've seen are a very, very good team. "
"They were runners-up last year and I could see that (being a tough game) coming.
"We knew . . . we'd turn the results around. It's a tough competition and we were never far off. Now we're getting across the line which is good.
"There is still a long way to go but it's nice to at least be in a position where we can look at challenging for a playoff spot."
While it might seem a bit early for talk of the play offs Smith takes confidence in the Hurricanes stats as their 21 tries are equaled only by the Chiefs and they lead Super Rugby in line breaks, defenders beaten and metres made.