Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Hurricanes focusing on a polished performance

Tim Bateman of the Hurricanes says there is no chance of complacency creeping into the team. Photo / Getty Images
Tim Bateman of the Hurricanes says there is no chance of complacency creeping into the team. Photo / Getty Images

Performance rather than points is paramount in the eyes of Hurricanes second-five Tim Bateman when it comes to tomorrow's game against the Southern Kings at Westpac Stadium.

After starting brightly with a 22-10 win over the Western Force in round two, the Kings have dropped their past three games and were beaten comfortably 55-20 by the Crusaders in Christchurch last weekend.

With home advantage and a near full-strength line-up to choose from, the Hurricanes should breeze past the Port Elizabeth-based Kings.

The game has a similar feel to a round six outing last year when the Hurricanes were meant to dominate the Cheetahs at the Cake Tin but coughed up a 32-11 lead mid-way through the first half to eventually succumb 47-38.

Bateman said there would be no chance of complacency creeping into the team tomorrow, and it helps that Conrad Smith (heel) and TJ Perenara (calf) both came through training on Thursday and will start.

"We are a team that bases ourselves purely on performance," Bateman said. "It doesn't matter how bad another team is or how good another team is, we are going to review each game the same way.

"If we win the game by 10 points and we are really disappointed with the way we are playing then we are still going to look at it like that if we win the game by 50. So it's all about our own standards and our own preparation that we are hopefully doing each week for no matter who we play."

The two-win two-loss Hurricanes will be eager to avoid another slip-up against a lowly-ranked South African side for the second year running as that loss to the Cheetahs last season essentially cost them a berth in the playoffs.

At the end of Hurricanes training on Thursday, Bateman and Beauden Barrett engaged in a lengthy chat with All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster about defence as Foster paid a brief visit to Rugby League Park to watch the Hurricanes go through their paces.

Barrett has struggled with his tackling at times this season, but Bateman said he had faith in the pivot improving that facet of his game and welcomed the Kings targeting them.

"We've got the systems in place and Beaudy's a good tackler and he's confident and I'm confident in him and we'll keep chipping away at it but I'm sure that we'll shore that area up and if they come down there that's a good thing for us."

Bateman's resolute defence is one of the impressive factors of his game and despite tipping the scales at only 91kgs, he said technique was crucial for the smaller players.

Young loose forward Ardie Savea was thought to be a chance to be included in the match-day 22 for this weekend considering he has served his four-game suspension for a dangerous tackle in the pre-season, but he wasn't selected.

Savea played No 8 for the Hurricanes Development team against the Fiji Warriors in Wanganui on Thursday after two previous outings for the second-string side in the Pacific Rugby Cup.

Hurricanes assistant coach Alama Ieremia said the management wanted to see another 80-minute performance from the 19-year-old before he would be considered to make his Super Rugby debut.

- APNZ

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