Coach Chris Boyd admits the pressure is on the Hurricanes as they hunt their first win of the Super Rugby season when they tackle the Blues at Eden Park on Friday.
After opening losses to the Brumbies and the Highlanders, last year’s beaten finalists sit bottom of the New Zealand conference and desperately need a win to kickstart their campaign.
Skipper Dane Coles’ calf injury means he is still a 50-50 proposition to play his first match of the season, bracketed with Leni Apisai to start on Friday.
Doubts also linger about two other All Blacks: Nehe Milner-Skudder will need to overcome a bruised knee and Cory Jane will have to prove he has recovered from a head knock.
Injuries aside, Boyd says his team have shown encouraging improvement after their opening 52-10 loss to the Brumbies, despite being edged 17-16 by the Highlanders last week in Dunedin.
“This conference is so tough, there’s just nowhere to relax – one week after the next you’ve just got to keep putting the performance on,” he said.
“You need to win every week in this competition, to be honest.
“In isolation, we’ll attempt to play the best we can at the weekend, and if that’s not good enough then we’ve just got to worry about the Force the following week.
“O and three is not terminal, but you start putting yourself in a tough position.”
Prop Reggie Goodes, set to play his 50th match for the Hurricanes after making his debut in 2012, says while the forward pack showed real improvement against the Highlanders, they were still a long way off their best.
“Consistency is key – every game we need to perform nine out of 10, or 10 out of 10 as a forward pack and work as an eight,” he said.
“The first game we weren’t quite there, but we’re on the right path.”