Iose amping for Chiefs clash

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Iose said that the Hurricanes were expecting a different approach from many of the teams they have played, especially at the top of the table.

"They're physical in the forwards and have got some pretty special players in their backline with lots of x-factor. It's a good opportunity to test ourselves against that to see where we are at. It'll be a great game."

It's only their second appearance at Sky Stadium this season, but it is a place they love to play.

"Hopefully, it's not too windy. We've had incredible support this year, so we hope to get many people at the stadium.

Iose said the side had a big week of preparation leading into the Highlanders game before their bye, and the forwards, especially, were proud of how they executed their plan for the game.

"We then recharged and refreshed and got the bodies and minds reset and came in nice and fresh on Tuesday."

The competition had been a tough first half with several New Zealand derbies.

"Starting with the Force and then into the Reds...the Reds were really physical, and then coming into the Blues and the Crusaders was a big ask. So the bye was timely. The boys were pretty banged up.

"But they came in smiling, and were happy to be back together and everyone's feeling good."

Reflecting on the side's successful start to the season, Iose said it was due to a combination of factors.

"We have a young group; everyone's a year old and a bit more experienced, and the alignment of our coaching staff is evident in the way we play.

"They're open to challenging us and putting us under pressure. They're not giving us all the answers, and that's getting the best out of us.

"I'm enjoying it and am grateful to be one of the loose forwards here. There're still lots of things that I'm working on every week, but I'm really enjoying my rugby."

Assistant coach Cory Jane said he hoped coming off a bye would not be a problem for the side, but he acknowledged it was a big game for the side.

"We're not even halfway through the competition, so there's going to be some challenging times ahead. We have to keep nailing each day and see how we go."

Losing halfback Cam Roigard had been a blow, but Jane said they were fortunate to have TJ Perenara's experience to call on.

"We're pretty lucky, we've got a couple of world-class halfbacks. It's disappointing for Cam because he's a big part of our game and has been huge over the last couple of years with what he's done. He's very competitive, understands the game and he hasn't changed in any way."

Perenara was now more likely to start instead of always being behind Roigard, but a couple of other halfbacks in the squad were also challenging for a spot.

"When you go through what he [Perenara] has and get to the stage he did, and then have to go and have surgery see him running around on a calf muscle that's as big as my forearm, he's still going out there and competing.

"I haven't seen a person, especially in New Zealand rugby, with the mindset that he has. Unbelievable.

"He pushes the boys every day. He just got to keep going out there. He's shown over the last couple of games that he can still play. We need him and New Zealand rugby needs him."

That would especially be the case against the Chiefs.

"We've got challenges everywhere. They are a good team. They were unreal last year and have shown at times this year that they can take you apart, not only with their skill set but they've also got athletes across the paddock. They're also tough, and they love their physical collision area on both sides of the ball."


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