Bekhuis eyes rare rugby milestone

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Lynn McConnell     09 Mar 2016     Getty Images

All going well, the former Southland Highlander now plying his rugby trade with the Blues, should play his 100th Super Rugby game against the Reds next weekend. If able to achieve the feat he will join a select group of players to have played 100 games in both Super Rugby and the national provincial championship.

While the call to national honours has eluded him, Bekhuis has still packed plenty into his career, and membership of two Ranfurly Shield-winning Southland sides would be right up there.

However, for the moment his attention is firmly focused on helping the Blues in their immediate task of recovering from their second round loss to the Crusaders, ahead of Friday's game with the Hurricanes at Eden Park.

Bekhuis said the Crusaders had made use of their good set-piece to rattle the Blues. While they had adapted later in the game, it was too late. There had been plenty of lessons for the side to absorb and work on ahead of this week's clash with the Hurricanes.

"But it's always hard to win in Christchurch. Whenever I've played there against the Crusaders they're a well-drilled team and they are going to come at you, especially in front of their home crowd. I think we felt that," he said.

It's not surprising that as a lock he finds extra stimulation coming up against the Crusaders and the lineout contests that ensue.

"I really thrive on those sorts of challenges against Sam Whitelock, and even Kieran Read, with his lineout skills," he said.

Bekhuis enjoys the analytical preparation for lineout contests with plenty of study going into opposition techniques in the week leading up to games.

He has been surprised at how well his body has held together over the years and credits his liaison with former All Blacks lock Brad Thorn for that.

"Brad played until he was 40 and there is no-one better to learn from on how to look after your body. He was the most flexible lock I've seen – ever. He'd be stretching his hamstrings and his foot would nearly be touching his face and I can't even get it up to 90 degrees so that's been a big work-on for me. Just the way he looked after himself and his body."

Often Thorn would get Bekhuis to stay on and work longer and that is something he has tried to continue since then.

It was important to do the stretching to look after the body, not only during the season but for life after rugby.

Looking to turn 30 later in the season, Bekhuis is out of contract at the end of the season and said he was in negotiations regarding his future at the moment.

Bekhuis said he had been working on commerce qualifications through Massey University as part of New Zealand Rugby's personal development programme and while he said it was difficult to fit study in around rugby it took discipline and he was aiming to continue to complete a degree.

Bekhuis felt the Blues squad of 2016 had huge potential but it was a fact that the competition was highly-competitive as was seen in round two and the Blues had to keep grounded all week.

"I've got huge belief in the team, we've got good structures in place and if we put our heads down and do things properly we can do well.

"The Hurricanes are a dangerous team. Watching their game at the weekend it could have been anyone who won and they're going to come at us. But hopefully we can disappoint them a bit. It will be a close game, and another physical one."

Bekhuis was looking forward to achieving the century milestone wearing the Blues jersey. The shift north from Highlanders territory for the 2015 season had been refreshing and he and his wife had both enjoyed the change.

While not missing the cooler weather more associated with the south, he has found the greater humidity in Auckland had led to much more sweating making it a battle to keep weight on.

Friday night is likely to require plenty of perspiration if the Blues are to contain an improving Hurricanes side.