Providing the grunt for a charge to the Super Rugby playoffs has priority over any All Blacks ambitions for Hurricanes lock James Broadhurst.
The rangy Taranaki forward has been an influential part of the Hurricanes’ improved efforts up front, helping push them 13 points clear of the pack with four rounds remaining.
Victory over the Blues in Auckland on Saturday will guarantee a berth in the finals and further cement their position on top of the standings.
Broadhurst’s powerhouse midfield runs and damaging defence has been central to their progress.
The 27-year-old will start his 12th game this weekend, the most by any Hurricane this season, having missed just one game through suspension.
That consistency means more to him than any whispers of higher honours, which are starting to grow in intensity.
His chances of selection in the first 41-man All Blacks squad of the year may improve further if Patrick Tuipulotu can’t shake off a hip injury that has ruled him out for the remainder of the Blues’ season.
Uncertainty surrounds the extent of the injury to seven-Test All Black Tuipulotu, who has a similar ball-running style to Broadhurst.
“I’ve not even thought about (All Blacks selection), I’m only focusing on the Hurricanes,” Broadhurst told NZ Newswire.
“I’ve been pretty happy. One of the main goals this year for me was to be consistent every week and to be rewarded with this many starts has probably been testament to that.”
The same attitude worked for him last year when he was among the best players for Taranaki on their way to a maiden NPC crown.
Broadhurst is taking nothing for granted against the injury-ravaged Blues, who have struggled this year yet won all three games at Eden Park.
They also have a winning history over the Hurricanes at the ground and Broadhurst reckons another tense battle similar to last week’s 22-18 arm-wrestle win over the Chiefs looms.
“Against the Chiefs, it was probably one of the few times this year we weren’t in control so to get away with the win was great,” he said.
“That’s not the first time we’ve done it this year and more of those are to come.
“Every game from now on is going to be play-off intensity with teams getting desperate or having something to prove.”