Hurricanes to play Sharks in Napier
NEWS: Napier will host a Hurricanes home match in 2018 when the Sharks make an historic Super Rugby visit to McLean Park.
The Round Eight match, on April 6, will mark the first time South Africa's Sharks have played in the Hawke's Bay and is the latest in a growing tradition of Hurricanes matches in Napier.
More than 13 000 fans spurred the Hurricanes to a 56-21 win over the Brumbies in April this year and Hawke's Bay Rugby Union Chief Executive Mike Bishop was confident of another big turnout for the Sharks.
"The Hurricanes have a strong history of success at McLean Park with successive wins over the Bulls, Highlanders and Brumbies since 2014 and will be looking to build on that in front of their Hawke's Bay fans in 2018.
"The game will be of special significance for the Magpies quartet of Ihaia West, Gareth Evans, Ben May and Jonah Lowe who will want to add to the rich history of Hawke's Bay players making a big contribution to the Hurricanes brand."
The Sharks shape as a stern test after the four-time Super Rugby finalists, reached the quarterfinals in 2017 before narrowly losing 21-23 to 2017 finalists the Lions.
The match will represent the eleventh time the Hurricanes have played a home match in Napier since they beat Transvaal 32-16 in 1996.
Hurricanes Chief Executive Avan Lee said taking matches to the regions remained a firm priority for the organisation.
"We see all of our regional partners as playing an important role in the team. Over the past two years Hawke's Bay has run a fantastic match day experience at McLean Park and I know our players and coaches are already looking forward to returning in 2018.
"The Hurricanes will continue to take big matches to the regions and we are already in discussions with Manawatu about hosting a match in Palmerston North in 2019."
Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said the Hurricanes had become a regular and popular feature of the city's annual events calendar.
"Working to secure this game for Napier in partnership with the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union and Hurricanes management has paid off, in the best way possible.
"We're looking forward to hosting local, national and international sports fans at McLean Park. While they are here I'm sure they will take the opportunity to enjoy Napier and explore our wonderful region."