Bateman not ready to say goodbye to Canes
Tim Bateman stopped short of getting all soppy.
But you get the feeling there might be a few dewy eyes in the Hurricanes changing sheds under Waikato Stadium before tonight's crunch Super Rugby match against the Chiefs.
There will be plenty of heartfelt goodbyes when the Hurricanes season finishes, and not just departing coach Mark Hammett to Cardiff.
Bateman, Andre Taylor and Faifili Levave will all head to Japan, while Alapati Leiua and Jack Lam are off to London.
Together the group have given plenty to the Hurricanes over a long period and Bateman said the emotional motivation to delay the farewells by reaching the playoffs was always going to creep in late in the season.
"It's huge. There are a number of guys. Pati [Leiua] is sitting on 49 caps for the Hurricanes. Snakey [Conrad Smith] was saying today we don't want this to be the end and if we don't get it right on Friday then it could potentially be our last training," Bateman said.
"There are a lot of emotional feelings rolling around. Where we came from at the start of the season, then to get ourselves into a position to go up to the Chiefs and play the defending champions, at their home ground, for an opportunity to go through to the playoffs. If you can't get up for that then you shouldn't be playing rugby."
But Bateman also knows the pitfalls of letting emotional fog interfere with preparation and push the collective energy over the edge of its usefulness.
"You are conscious of getting the team right and doing everything you need to get a performance on the weekend, so to be honest there hasn't been any focus on the guys who are leaving.
"It's disappointing they [Leiua, Levave, and Taylor] can't play and I'd love to do it for them, but your focus has to be on the guys who are playing."
And Bateman is confident that the absence of a handful of players through injury won't have a major impact on the Hurricanes chances.
"When Pati and Victor [Vito] went down right at the start [against the Crusaders] last week, there was no stress. I knew [Hadleigh] Parkes and I had a job to do and I had full confidence in all the guys they'd do that."
Bateman believes the key to beating the Chiefs in Hamilton is not simply being satisfied with matching the intensity they always bring to their home ground.
"The Chiefs have a spot to play for and they will be fizzing. We have to match that challenge and in fact we have to beat that challenge.
"We have to be the ones that bring that passion and intensity. We can't go there with the approach of matching them, we have to go there with the idea that it's us they have to match.
The Dominion Post