Chris Boyd got some air time on Wednesday with his belief that the Lions of South Africa will be tough to beat in Super Rugby 2017, but that should not detract from the fact his Hurricanes can make a major statement with victory in Hamilton against the Chiefs.

Skipper Dane Coles is under no allusions as to what awaits, especially if the weather packs in and forces a forwards slugfest with an aerial bombardment.

"I suppose they have had two tough games, and we've had two games where we didn't have to work that hard, but I know we haven't been lacking any motivation or intensity," says Coles.

"It's always quite personal against the Kiwi sides. We know each other, but you see in these New Zealand derbies that everyone is out to hurt each other. All the Kiwi sides like to run with the ball. It's almost like a test week with the All Blacks.


"I love the competitive nature of these derbies and it looks like they've been enjoying it the last couple of weeks too. There's always a bit of banter. Brodie Retallick is among the best of them," Coles adds.

The focus will fall squarely on the Hurricanes forwards, who are untested in 160 minutes, though they have done their core roles at set-piece efficiently.

"We have to be smart. Obviously Dom (Bird) and Retallick are exceptional at getting up in the air, but those guys have to be lifted as well," says Coles.

Mark Abbott wins his first start of 2017 at lock after 14 games in 2016.

"Everyone talks about these Kiwi derbies as being the best in the competition, so we're pumped about it. (Bird and Retallick) are a couple of 2m plus fellas and really good lineout operators. I played with Dom a few years ago. We need to be switched on with their ball and clinical on our ball," Abbott says. "It could be a slugfest, with two packs that are not going to back down."

Expect the Hurricanes to start better than they did against the Rebels and, conversely, finish stronger than they did against the Sunwolves. The scary thing is that the competition leaders have not fired in two quarters, and yet they have an extraordinary points differential of +131.

"It's a bit of a rarity beating Super teams by that much. It was fun, but we know this is going to a different level and intensity. Obviously our attacking game has worked well for us, so we are not going to shy away from having a go, but in that first 20 against the Rebels, we didn't earn the right," cautions Coles.

These two franchises split two games in 2016, though the Hurricanes won the semifinal 25-9.

Hurricanes: Nehe Milner-Skudder, Vince Aso, Matt Proctor, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Michael Fatialofa, Mark Abbott, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles (c), Loni Uhila

Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves, Ben May, James Blackwell, Callum Gibbins, Chris Smylie, Otere Black, Jordie Barrett