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Ngatai not ready for campaign to end yet

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Lynn McConnell     19 Jul 2018     Getty Images

Ngatai's return is timely after he had been ruled out due to illness that affected him and his family but he was recovered now and looking forward to playing.

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His combination with All Blacks centre Anton Lienert-Brown would be an important link in containing the threat of the Hurricanes backs, especially their rivals Ngani Laumape and Jordie Barrett.

Ngatai said while reaching the playoffs was familiar territory for the side their trainers had been trying to keep the lid on enthusiasm ahead of the game and they had concentrated on keeping the players as fresh as possible.

In terms of the task ahead of the side, Ngatai said the knockout nature of the game meant you had to throw everything into the game while also attempting to cover all the bases that the Hurricanes might look to explore.

While the Chiefs were in the position of having several players who had been regularly exposed to finals rugby, he said that was in the past and this year they had a number of younger players who had not been in that position.

Part of the task was preparing those younger players for the different type of challenge provided by finals football.
It was about trying to prepare as usual and not changing too much because that had the capacity to 'spook' players a bit, he said.

"We're trying to keep it as normal as possible and fresh for the weekend."

Knowing that he was heading overseas at the end of the campaign was something that was sitting in the back of his mind. He knew that there were only a few weeks left playing for the Chiefs but at the same time it was something he didn't want to end this weekend.

"You just want to keep playing as you've been playing, put your best foot forward and hope that we can go through and we can only do it on Friday," he said.

The ultimate goal would be to advance and go out with a winning final effort.

"We'll just take this weekend as it goes and see what happens after that."

Ngatai said he had thought about the prospect of playing for the All Blacks again but the desire to have new experiences for himself and his family remained his incentive for ending his connection with the Chiefs.

He did hint that once his overseas career was over he could return to his home territory on the East Coast to help the game over there in some capacity. Whether that was in playing or coaching would depend on how his body stood up, he said.