Highlanders star Aaron Smith has praised his Hurricanes counterpart TJ Perenara as the "fittest, fastest and strongest" halfback in New Zealand ahead of another Super Rugby showdown between the pair.
As long-time rivals for the black No.9 jersey, the pair enjoy a good off-field relationship, but with Smith regarding Perenara as both "the most competitive guy he has met" and a "physical beast", the battles on the field are always ferocious.
"I’m a pretty competitive guy but if we were fighting over a stone I don't know who would win. Plus you add the halfback factor, we try to be everywhere, we try to touch the ball all the time wanting to be in every play," Smith said.
Smith was wary of making it too much of a personal battle when facing Perenara, saying he had been guilty of that in the past.
"I know if I try to go in a one-on-one with him, you go away from what your job is for the team," he said.
"We don’t talk much on the field anymore, we used to chip away at each other, but like I said it takes you away from what your focus is."
Aaron Smith says TJ Perenara is the most competitive guy he has ever met.