Tawera Kerr-Barlow will likely be set for another sleepless night after the Chiefs host the Hurricanes tonight.

That won't be a result of any lingering emotions after his personal battle with TJ Perenara - the Chiefs halfback says he avoids taking too seriously those individual duels.

Nor will Kerr-Barlow be kept awake wondering how the match-up impacted on his prospects to feature against the Lions - he insists that tour is barely a speck on the horizon.

No, the cause of the insomnia, as Kerr-Barlow discovered following the Chiefs' bruising win over the Blues last weekend, will be a more tangible result of the New Zealand derbies.


"They're such great games to play in," he told Radio Sport. "They're physical, they're fast - I got home the other night and I couldn't even get to sleep because my body was so sore."

Considering tonight's clash in Hamilton will be the Chiefs' third derby in succession, it's no wonder Kerr-Barlow's bed has become a little redundant.

But the Chiefs have at least inflicted more pain than they've suffered: ahead of the encounter with the defending champions, they've already beaten the Blues and Highlanders to establish an edge in what's likely to again be a condensed Kiwi conference.

And while the Chiefs could hardly have asked for a tougher draw to kick off the campaign, Kerr-Barlow would rather have endured his side's trial by fire than enjoyed his opponents' lightweight preparation, given the Hurricanes have barely been tested in romps over the Sunwolves and Rebels.

"I'd probably prefer to be playing the Kiwi teams, because everyone knows the matches are so physical," he said. "Any side in the New Zealand conference can beat each other and the margins are so small that it doesn't take much. You just have to win those moments when they present themselves."

Kerr-Barlow has so far proven adept at seizing the moment this season, making a match-high 16 tackles to help the Chiefs hold out the Highlanders in week one before showcasing his running game to spark an electric attack against the Blues.

Given Brad Weber was ruled out for the season with a knee injury, Kerr-Barlow's all-round attributes should be allowed to shine even brighter this year, taking ownership of the No 9 jersey at a crucial time personally given the looming Lions tour.

And although he said there had been "no talk" of that lure in the Chiefs camp, Kerr Barlow acknowledged his encounter with Perenara could hold a greater significance.

"In the back of your mind, you know these are the blokes you're going to compete with for national honours. But I never really take those personal battles too seriously, or take them too personally at all."

Kerr-Barlow, though, joked that approach was unlikely to be mutual.

"If [Perenara] comes across me, he'll try and have a chip at me. He likes to talk a bit on the paddock, that fella, so I'll have to see what he comes up with."