Front-rowers and flashy talk aren’t common rugby bedfellows.
So it’s no surprise that Dane Coles and Ben Franks have warned their Hurricanes teammates to stay firmly grounded ahead of Saturday’s match against Queensland in Wellington.
The All Blacks’ pair say getting carried away with three straight wins could undo all the hard work that has lifted them from near the foot of the Super Rugby table to seventh at the midway point of the season.
A 4-4 win-loss record leaves their season at a crossroads while the 12th-placed Reds (3-5) are reaching desperation stakes, having lost their past two games.
Hooker Coles says one reason the Hurricanes haven’t reached the playoffs since 2009 is their inability to maintain consistent high standards.
They played to their potential in last week’s 39-20 home win over the Blues, he said.
“But in previous years, we might have had one good, physical game and then the next week dropped – we weren’t consistent enough,” Coles said.
“This year, we want to be real consistent, week in, week out. There’s plenty of belief but we’ve got to keep our feet firmly on the ground because we’ve only won four games.”
The physicality of the Hurricanes’ pack has allowed a star-studded backline to express themselves.
Their 26 tries this season is three more than any other team, defying a disjointed start to the campaign in which they lost their first three games.
Fellow-All Black Franks reminded his team of how low they felt through those opening weeks.
“When you are winning, everyone is getting the pats on the back and, as you can see, it feels good turning up to training,” he said.
“But we have to work as hard as when we weren’t quite winning. It’s easy if you are mentally weak to switch off and think, ‘things are great now’, and it takes a kick up the arse for things to go back to normal.”
The prop returns from a groin injury to replace Reggie Goodes in the only starting Hurricanes change.
Lock James Horwill will earn his 100th cap for the visitors while there are changes in the front row, where prop Ben Daley and hooker Saia Fainga’a will start.
In the backs, inside centre Mike Harris and winger Jamie-Jerry Taulagi come into the starting XV.
The Reds have lost their past seven away games against the Hurricanes since 2000.