Jonathan Kaplan is the flavour of the week in Wellington and the Canes couldn’t be happier having him referee Saturday’s Vodacom Super 14 final.
Hurricanes coach Colin Cooper said the Hurricanes “overwhelmingly” endorsed Kaplan.
“That’s why we rate him the No 1, because he’s very clear and we understand how he interprets the laws in the contact area,” Cooper told the New Zealand media.
The mind games with match officials have started and the Canes obviously want to get on the right side of Kaplan.
Former All Blacks and Canes captain Tana Umaga said his team had learned lessons from the 20-11 defeat against the Crusaders in the league stages.
“One aspect of the Crusaders that they’ve got over us is their ability to play to the ref,” he said. “That’s something we have to learn. We have to be able to move with the ref. If he’s calling it one way then we have to go that way as well. I suppose we were a bit slow to do that earlier on.”
Umaga rated Kaplan alongside England’s Chris White as the best referee in the world and easily the best in the southern hemisphere.
“We’re lucky to have a ref like that controlling the final because he likes free-flowing football, he doesn’t like people slowing the ball down. That’s good for both sides because we like to have the ball in the hand a lot.”