Ngatai and Sonny Bill set to fire against Canes

Charlie Ngatai says his midfield combination with Sonny Bill Williams is starting to click just at the right time as they face the Hurricanes season All Black duo this weekend.

Ngatai and Sonny Bill are expected to be named in the 12 and 13 jerseys this week and they will go up against the regular All Black midfield combination of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith

Smith and Nonu are a key part of the in-form Hurricanes backline but with first-five Beauden Barrett being injured currently the Wellington side are relying more on their All Black duo’s experience in attack and defence.

Nonu missed last year’s end of year tour with the All Blacks but Sonny Bill Williams filled in and partnered with Conrad Smith but this week Williams will go up against Smith in a contest that will no doubt be watched closely by the All Black selectors.

Former Hurricane and Maori All Blacks captain Charlie Ngatai believes that he and Williams now form a formidable partnership of their own.

“Me and Sonny have worked pretty much the whole season together and are just starting to get our combination right,” Ngatai told Stuff.

“It’s working well for us and we’re feeding off each other so hopefully we can pair up this weekend and it will be good.”

Ngatai said that Super Rugby’s leaders the Hurricanes are strong in most aspects of their game but in particular they are lethal in counter-attack.

“We’ve seen some clips and they’ve just been splitting teams open, so if we can combat that I think we’ll do pretty well.”

Ngatai said that they will try to reduce the number of turnovers and ball handling errors as this will reduce the potential for Hurricanes counter attack.

“It has to be error-free in a big game like that. We’ve just got to come out and do the right things and put a good accurate performance out there.”

In the corresponding fixture last year the Chiefs got hammered 45-8 by the Hurricanes in Wellington and Ngatai admitted it was tough to accept before they got their own back in the Hamilton return match.

“We just didn’t turn up (in Wellington last year) but this time I think we are a lot better prepared coming off the bye, have freshened up and are really looking forward to it,” he said.

“The pressure’s on us at the moment (with the Hurricanes top of the New Zealand conference), but that’s good, we thrive on that.”

The Chiefs will go into this week’s match off a bye and Ngatai said that it had come at a good time for the Hamilton side as it gave them time to get over the loss in Melbourne to the Rebels.

“We were disappointed in our performance but we can turn it around and put in a good performance on Saturday. I know we’ve got the team that can lift (against the Hurricanes) and it’s going to be a good challenge for us.”

“Defence wins games and we’ve got to have a good defence this week against the Hurricanes who have got a good counter-attack team – we’ve got to be sharp on that,” he said.

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