Rested Smith raring to play

Highlanders halfback Aaron Smith goes into a ruck under the gaze of utility back Matt Faddes at training at the University of Otago Oval yesterday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Highlanders halfback Aaron Smith goes into a ruck under the gaze of utility back Matt Faddes at training at the University of Otago Oval yesterday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Well rested and itching for battle, Aaron Smith is like a cat on a hot tin roof.

Smith (29) is all fired up for the Highlanders' playoff game against the Waratahs this Saturday night in Sydney.

That comes with Smith - he is energy and fight. He had last week off and is ready to go.

''I feel about 21 now and good. It is all right to have a week off and it is all good. But I got to the game [against Rebels] about 5.30pm and I was thinking 'this is what you miss','' he said.

''The body probably needed the break but you never do not want to play the game. It is pretty hard watching but the boys had an awesome game. I came in Monday pretty energised and had a real good gym session ... you can really attack the week and feel the energy in the group.''

The playoffs was about taking the step up from the regular season and getting excited.

''You just have to break the game down into moments. Not build it up too much. We are just really excited to be there.

''But you just need to get one more point than them. That is what playoff footy is about. It is the best time. You kind of go out there with that throw it all, try something, don't be afraid.

''You actually play a bit better when there could be no Monday. You go out there a bit freer.

''I think the pressure of playing away from home is quite good. We try to embrace that. There is going to be a lot of pressure on them to front up at home.''

He said the side would much rather be heading to Sydney than going to South Africa.

He is happy with his own game, and the week off helped as he spent some time at home and got a bit of work done.

But he is a player not a watcher.

''I would have hate to have seen if there was a camera on me. There were a few bad words and that. But it was pretty cool to watch ... it is like watching your little brother get beat up but when the big brother comes over the top it is good.''

Smith said the side having its fifth season in a row in the playoffs was a real sign of progress in the group but this year's side was a different team than the one which won it all in 2015.

''Since 2014 we have built a real winning culture and kept winning enough. But in Super Rugby there are so many good teams and we are pretty lucky we are not in South Africa and going to Sydney instead. That gives us a few more nights at home.''

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