Hurricanes timing run to the playoffs

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An unlikely loss to the Reds in New Plymouth ended the Chiefs' unbeaten run, but it is the Hurricanes who most need to build momentum heading toward the playoffs, and they will be attempting that at reduced strength.

Coach Jason Holland had to make his selection with All Blacks' rest periods in mind, but also knowing he wants his internationals in their best shape for the playoffs.

Missing on Saturday will be captain and No8 Ardie Savea, tighthead prop Tyrel Lomax and second five-eighths Jordie Barrett. Taking their places are Brayden Iose, Owen Franks and Peter Umaga-Jensen.

Holland said, "We've always had a plan that we need to be at our best come the business end of the season, as individuals and as a group.

"We're planning to have guys with high energy games for [weeks] four, five and six [the playoffs], and nothing will be different when the All Blacks are trying to win a World Cup.

"We talk about the All Blacks this week, but we rested a couple last week that you would have noticed to make sure that guys are in the best possible nick to play the Chiefs, the Blues, the Crusaders, and then probably three more derbies to win a championship.

"It's more making sure that our group is in the best possible nick and to be as strong as we can in knockout footy."

Beyond the Chiefs match, they would need to win their last two games, against the Blues and Crusaders, to secure a home quarterfinal. They will likely need to win at least two of their last three games to achieve that.

"But it's more about a run of games to win a championship.

"If you are trying to get guys to play six games in a row at that level, six derbies, then there's a natural drop-off in energy and an ability to be powerful and fast."


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