Liam Squire knows he made the right decision joining the Chiefs this year for his introduction to Super Rugby and the Chiefs will have reaffirmed the success of the signing themselves after Friday night's performance.
Squire, 23, was a leader in the Chiefs' increased physicality and intensity in their vital 24-16 victory over the Hurricanes at Waikato Stadium, while his pace and athleticism again stood out.
The big and dynamic No 8 produced an eye-catching performance, particularly in the first half when the Chiefs established a winning 16-6 halftime lead.
It also confirmed to him what he already knew - that he enjoys being part of Super Rugby and particularly the Chiefs.
"It's a giant step up but I'm absolutely loving it and I think I'm definitely in the right environment with the coaching staff and all the boys here, so it was a good choice I made," Squire said.
A higher level of commitment and physicality was called for from the Chiefs going into the match against the Hurricanes after the limp effort against the Wellington-based side in the capital six weeks earlier - a match in which Squire came off the bench - and a disappointing effort against the Highlanders a week ago.
That suited Squire who revels in that kind of game.
"We wanted to be a lot more physical than we were down at the Highlanders as we thought that's what let us down and I think the boys definitely stepped up in that category.
"I love that kind of game - it's fun to be a part of that."
Winning is also fun and Squire said they had missed that in their previous three matches that had brought them defeats to knock them off the top of the New Zealand Conference table.
"It's finally good to put those things on the field that we've been training for, so it's a step in the right direction for getting into those playoffs," Squire said.
Sometimes impressive training runs in the week leading up to a match don't always lead to good performances but the 1.96m, 113kg backrower was confident they were going to fire on Friday night.
"There was a lot of clarity throughout the week and we simplified things so it made it a lot easier for the boys to know what their roles were.
"Coming off the field against the Highlanders was pretty disappointing and we were looking forward to getting back on the field and correcting that, as well as playing in front of the home crowd made it that much better," he said.
Squire rated the Chiefs' performance "a massive step up" in intensity and admitted in the back of the players' minds had been the fact they had been "beaten up" by the Hurricanes in Wellington and wanted to return the favour in Hamilton, which in turn stopped the visitors playing their attacking game.
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