Quite how the Chiefs and Hurricanes get their heads around successive meetings is something which enthrals us more than the players.

We conjure up a multitude of ideas about how each side will approach these Super Rugby duels while the reality for the teams tonight will be about winning then repeating that in the playoffs.

The Chiefs have banked a bunch of damaged players and rested Damian McKenzie as part of the accord with the All Black selectors but won't have lowered their expectations against a strong Hurricanes crew.

Any footy player and coach worth their professional pedigree aims to win every game because they know lackadaisical thoughts are unwelcome teammates and have a habit of inviting injury. The plans may be quite different from this game to the next but the intent will not waver.


Driving that line of questioning will come with the return of Brodie Retallick who gets this game to rediscover his lines after a lengthy layoff with injury. The enforced rest and absence from the test series with France will have set the fire within the world-class lock to take his side beyond the quarter-finals.

In his absence the Chiefs have got plenty of mileage from Tyler Ardron and Michael Allardice and won both games since the resumption of the tournament. It's a flow they'll want to continue with their new combinations and at least give the Hurricanes more concerns about their recent work.

They piggy-backed Ngani Laumape in their last game against the Blues to muscle back into the winner's circle after three straight defeats but that result has become a laydown misere for every other New Zealand side this season.

Getting a comparative gauge on Laumape and Charlie Ngatai in midfield should be one of the more compelling duels as backlines studded with talent go about their business.

A few seasons back, Ngatai was in brutal form and earned his test cap against Samoa. He kept the heat on Malakai Fekitoa, Ryan Crotty and Sonny Bill Williams for the back-up jobs to Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu before concussion and other damage bit into his production.

As he sat on the sidelines uncertain about his playing future, another wave of players pushed into the midfield race. Anton Lienert-Brown, Laumape and Jack Goodhue all took their chances and Ngatai chose to sign a two year-deal with Lyon later this year.

When the midfielder was fit again for the Chiefs, coach Colin Cooper reintegrated him from fullback where he could organise his team, use his kicking game and pick up the pace of the game without the relentless ferocity of the midfield battles.

Eventually Ngatai's production demanded he shift up between McKenzie and Lienert-Brown and that brought more sting to the Chiefs. He has also given the All Black selectors a strong marker as they sift their ideas for the Rugby Championship and whether to carry an extra outside or midfield back.

Nehe Milner-Skudder did not get a run against France and specialist second five-eighths Laumape had two roles from the bench while Williams, Crotty, Lienert-Brown and Goodhue all cover both midfield roles.

Injury may be the eventual arbiter but whatever decision the All Black selectors make some very talented backs will be left out of their next group.