The big guns are back for the Hurricanes and TJ Perenara, for one, is champing at the bit, less than three months since his last match in late November.

The All Blacks halfback, who made massive strides in 2016, to the point where he even usurped Aaron Smith for the No 1 No 9 berth, after helping the Hurricanes to their first Super Rugby title, will likely, along with the other All Blacks, play some part in Friday's last pre-season hitout against the Crusaders in Waverley.

That should be enough to have them fizzing to take on the Sunwolves on February 25, up against former Hurricanes loose forward Filo Tiatia, who coaches the Japanese franchise.

"We've been in for a couple for weeks, so starting to get a few ks in the legs," says Perenara.


He would have liked to have played in the Brisbane Tens, had he been allowed, but joked that Cory Jane was getting to the base of the ruck there and was now calling himself the top halfback.

"I can't wait... to get back in to the groove. You don't have the championship any more. You are no longer the team who holds the Super Rugby title. All we have is a target on our head from any other team. It's not like the Ranfurly Shield where you are the holder. We need to earn the right and for us that starts in round one in Tokyo," Perenara says.

Newly married prop Reggie Goodes is still not right after his concussion, while lock-cum-loose forward Vaea Fifita was the major casualty out of the Brisbane Tens, likely to miss around 5-6 weeks with ankle ligament damage, which was first thought to be a broken leg. That further erodes the locking depth, with the onus now on the likes of Mark Abbott and Blade Thomson.

Other than that, it might just be a matter of rehydrating and recovery for those who survived the Suncorp Stadium furnace, where temperatures soared to 40 degrees centigrade.

The Hurricanes, who lost to the Crusaders in the semifinal, did well for a team that did not take the event that seriously with their loose preparation. The highlight may have been Jordie Barrett's sideline conversion for them to edge the Highlanders in the quarter-final.

Assistant coach Jason Holland stayed and worked with the squad members who did not travel to Brisbane.

"We'll be looking to fine-tune this Friday and get the detail right," says Holland, who doubles as the NZ Schools coach. "It's about how we integrate the All Blacks with the guys who have done more training."