DUNEDIN, New Zealand - Lock Josh Bekhuis believes the Highlanders need a tougher attitude and more physicality if they are to beat the Hurricanes in their Super Rugby clash at Forsyth Barr Stadium tonight.
The injury-plagued Highlanders are coming off a shock 36-19 loss to the Cheetahs, while the Hurricanes beat the Crusaders 29-28 last weekend.
Bekhuis, who will be playing his 61st game for the Highlanders, says it's been a tough few days as they absorbed the lessons from the Invercargill loss.
"The Cheetahs came out strongly and physically from the start," he said.
"We didn't bring the same attitude and they scored some soft tries in the first half. We were always chasing the game and that's not a good position to be in."
Bekhuis described the Hurricanes showdown as "massively important" to the winless Highlanders.
"The whole focus for us is to bring the right attitude and to be positive," he said.
"The forwards need to be better at the set pieces. We have to be more physical around the ball and the cleanout."
Bekhuis, 26, conceded injuries to key players had been unsettling.
"It's always a blow to lose someone like Nasi (Manu) but we've got decent depth in our squad and we have to front this week.
"I found it hard to get into last week's game. I've been reasonably satisfied with my form but there are certainly improvements to be made."
The Hurricanes will field seasoned second-rowers Jason Eaton and Jeremy Thrush, who Bekhuis says are always a challenge.
He is looking for a bigger presence with ball in hand, and wants to achieve consistency in his play.
Bekhuis says he's had his first proper pre-season in years after undergoing a hip reconstruction and now has renewed energy.
"That's quite exciting for me and hopefully I can convert that into some good form."