Wellington first five-eighth Tim Bateman plans to make like a middle-distance runner kicking for the finish line at Eden Park tomorrow night.
A well-rested Wellington Lions will play an Auckland side high on confidence, but possibly low on gas in round nine of the national provincial championship.
The two teams are at opposite ends of condensed runs with Auckland playing their third match in nine days and Wellington the first of three in eight days.
And Bateman doesn't hide the fact that the fatigue factor is playing a big part in the Lions' planning.
"It's an interesting one because they will be mentally really up there after two good wins, but physically we know they could be struggling a little," he said yesterday.
"We have to try and break them physically. We have to basically outwork them, go into the game thinking we are really going to run them around and show them a tough game.
"They've got some individuals who are quite brilliant in their backline, but they actually muscle up in the forwards, they take it in, suck in the defence, try to reload their backs and then use the width."
Wellington coach Chris Boyd had similar thoughts, but said it was difficult to say how fatigue affected teams.
"I guess we can only tell that at the back end of the game. Emotionally I think they will be up, so they have a lot of momentum," he said.
"It will just be whether they have enough petrol in the tank and in the legs to go the 80 minutes, which is the tricky bit for everybody when they have the short turnaround."
He said Auckland, who beat Taranaki 43-32 midweek, were the sort of team who could put the result beyond doubt early if their backs got quality ball.
"They certainly know how to score points," he said. "If you have a look at the championship table they've scored the most, so clearly they are going to be a handful for our defence. Charles Piutau, the centre [Malakai Fekitoa], they are very dangerous with the ball in hand."
Auckland are equal with Wellington on 19 points at the top of the premiership ladder with four wins and two losses.
Wellington, with four wins and a solitary loss, have named an unchanged starting side to the one who beat Waikato last Saturday, although lock Ross Filipo comes into the reserves.
An area of interest is the continuing return of first five-eighth Lima Sopoaga from a long injury break. Boyd said he hoped to give the Highlanders pivot more game time than last time out, but said it would be judged on form rather than a pre-conceived plan.
WELLINGTON: Jason Woodward, Alapati Leiua, Charlie Ngatai, Shaun Treeby, Matt Proctor, Tim Bateman, Frae Wilson, Ardie Savea, Scott Fuglistaller, Lua Lokotui, Mark Reddish, Jeremy Thrush (c), Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles, Eric Sione. Reserves: Motu Matu'u, Solomona Sakalia, Kaipati Gaualofa, Ross Filipo, Genesis Mamea, Kayne Hammington, Lima Sopoaga.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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