Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Rugby: Highlanders will put Chiefs to the test

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Taleni Seu on the charge for the Chiefs against the Sharks last week in New Plymouth. Photo / Getty Images
Taleni Seu on the charge for the Chiefs against the Sharks last week in New Plymouth. Photo / Getty Images

Former All Blacks hooker Nathan Harris is fully fit and back in the Chiefs squad - and it sure feels good.

The 24-year-old spent three weeks proving his fitness playing club rugby for Te Puke Sports following a head knock in South Africa back in March. Last week he finished the game off for the Gallagher Chiefs in their tight 24-22 win over the Sharks in New Plymouth.

"It was pretty tough really cause I only came on for 10 minutes. It was more about being clear and knowing my role and getting those little things right for those 10 minutes," Harris said.

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"We were having that attention to detail to get down the right end of the field and do our jobs correctly.

"I still have a fair few work ons to do but it was a good opportunity to take a step in the right direction and get a bit of game time."

Harris says the injury-ravaged Chiefs are taking confidence from winning their recent tight games.

"I think so. We have obviously been winning by quite a bit but coming to the midway stage of the season you know you are going to have some tough games coming though like the Hurricanes and the Sharks.

"It is all good to play wide expansive rugby but when you get to the later stages of the game when you are trying to close it out it is a different mindset as such.

"It is good to tick those boxes off coming into another bye after this game against the Highlanders which is going to be a pretty tough game."

The Highlanders are the next assignment for the Chiefs tomorrow night in Hamilton. It doubles as an All Blacks trial like all New Zealand derbies.

Harris will be on the bench and said it came as no surprise the clash between two powerful forward packs would be key to the outcome.

"I guess it is going to be the battle up front. That has been up and down for us. Against the Hurricanes we didn't have a very good set piece but against the Sharks it was a lot better against some big boys.

"I think it will be a defining point where either team is going to give their backs the best ball to play some territory with.

"That is one of the big areas that we are focusing on this week. They are pretty strong defenders and we have an attacking mindset so it is just about playing our own game and sticking to our structures that we know have worked for us in the past."

This week's games:

Tonight: Crusaders v Reds, Christchurch, 7.35pm; Brumbies v Bulls, Canberra, 9.40pm.

Tomorrow: Sunwolves v Force, Tokyo, 5.15pm; Chiefs v Highlanders, Hamilton 7.35pm; Waratahs v Cheetahs, Sydney, 9.40pm.

Sunday: Sharks v Hurricanes, Durban, 1am; Kings v Blues, Port Elizabeth, 3.05am.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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