TJ Perenara is calling for his team to enjoy tomorrow night's eagerly anticipated clash against the Crusaders.
That may sound a simple wish, but the Hurricanes skipper feels they play their best rugby when enjoyment is the predominant mindset. A Hurricanes side that is footloose and fancy-free is potentially an even more dangerous beast. They are already boasting an astonishing +236 points differential, though, in fairness, the Crusaders are at +210 and have proven they are the form team in Super Rugby over the last month.
The Hurricanes were often brilliant earlier in February and March, but their discipline has arrested their quality of performance in recent weeks. Can they rediscover their consistency without Dane Coles, Matt Proctor et al?
"I think enjoying the match and having fun is the most important thing. We do all the hard work Monday to Friday and put our bodies through some tough stuff, so when we get out there on the weekend that's the fun part. That's where a lot of people get lost in the game, they treat it as a chore more than anything," Perenara says.
"A lot of people think about the result or whether we play well or not and it actually does no good for the moment. I tend to preach that a lot in this environment. Trust your instinct, and whatever does happen, we'll get through it."
It is all part of the confident approach that has carried the Hurricanes through an 8-1 season in which they average seven tries a game. Having said that, one would think if early chances to kick penalty goals present themselves, the Hurricanes will take them, even though they have only kicked three three-pointers all season.
"We'd love to win and they'd love to win. It's an important game, but it's not the be-all and end-all," says Perenara. He may not talk like that with the All Blacks, where winning is always top of the priorities, and enjoyment comes from the satisfaction of a job done well.
There is, nevertheless, no hiding the fact this is the biggest New Zealand conference match of the year, a situation heightened by the mediocre quality of the Australian conference and the protracted saga of the competition structure.
"That's more external... you tend to block that stuff out. Yes, it's a local derby, and yes, we are playing a side that has not been beaten at the top of the table, but if we go in with false expectation and try and do too much, that leads to more bad than good. I guess the hype is more for the public and media," adds Perenara.
A Hurricanes' victory will tighten the top of the New Zealand conference, with the 9-1 Chiefs also contending for the coveted top of the table billing that will offer easier passage through the playoffs.
"The (fact the Crusaders) haven't lost is the most impressive thing. They came from behind in their first few games and they've been building ever since," Perenara says.
One thing is for certain: Crusaders wings George Bridge and Seta Tamanivalu will have been practising their aerial skills all week to prepare for the inevitable Beauden Barrett kick-pass.
Crusaders: David Havili, Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Mitch Drummond, Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd (c), Pete Samu, Scott Barrett, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody
Reserves: Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett, Michael Alaalatoa, Quinten Strange, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Bryn Hall, Mitch Hunt, Manasa Mataele
Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Cory Jane, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara (c), Brad Shields, Ardie Savea, Reed Prinsep, Vaea Fifita, Mark Abbott, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves
Reserves: Leni Apisai, Ben May, Loni Uhila, Sam Lousi, Toa Halafihi, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Otere Black, Wes Goosen