Veteran prop Chris King builds towards milestone
Forget the underdog tag, Chris King isn't wearing it.
The 32-year-old prop, who should bring up his 100th game for the Highlanders this season, believes the franchise is good enough to win games this season without relying on opposition complacency.
"We've got big expectations on ourselves to perform a lot better than last year," he said.
"The superstars are gone from last year, but sometimes you bring in some young blood and they are eager to make an impression.
"I think the expectations amongst the boys are pretty high. The media will talk us up as underdogs but we know what we can do. Last year we lost games ourselves, dropping the last pass, all those little skill things the good teams finish off."
The Highlanders open their account tomorrow night against the Blues in Dunedin, and King hopes those who come to the game like what they see.
"I think you can expect a young team that wants to play a good, expansive game. With Tony Brown there as the attack coach, Otago have played some good rugby over the last couple of years. We just need to make sure we start finishing things, start scoring tries and not let teams slip away by three or four points."
King has seen a lot of rugby teams on his travels. He has played for four NPC teams (including 51 games for Southland), 91 games for the Highlanders and another 16 for the Crusaders.
Bringing up the ton for the Dunedin-based franchise will mean a lot to the well-travelled front-rower who should also complete a builder's apprenticeship this year, something he started back in 2001.
King spends a day a week building to complete the necessary hours and joked he might buy himself a new drop-saw to celebrate finally finishing his apprenticeship.
Building, whether it's in Christchurch or Dunedin, is where he'll likely head after his playing days, but King plans to play for another couple of seasons yet, especially after missing much of last year with a pectoral injury.
The man they call Mule has an important role to play for the Highlanders, according to coach Jamie Joseph.
"I've told him he's a 7/10 player for me," Joseph said.
"Half the time you get a 9/10, but you never get less than 7/10. He's always there or thereabouts. His experience will be invaluable, particularly in a front row which has a couple of young props. He can play both sides if we need that to happen."