Highlanders skipper Anton Oliver believes his 100th Super 12 appearance against the Blues on Friday night is the most important game of the season.
Oliver, who will become the first New Zealand player to rack up a century in the competition, toldallblacks.com that the fact that they would be playing for the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy makes the match special for him.
"It's probably the most important game of the season," Oliver said. "Gordon was a close friend and the last few years I have put a lot of passion into this game and been emotionally drained at the end of it. It will be a time to reflect."
Hunter was a former Otago, Highlanders and Blues coach, as well as national selector from 1996-99. He passed away in 2002 with cancer aged 52. Since then the Highlanders have won the trophy twice and the Blues once.
"Gordon was a great friend, a 'one-off,' and there's no one even remotely similar to him. Anyone who knew him will testify to that," Oliver added.
Oliver admits he particularly enjoys playing against fellow All Blacks: "Playing against your mates is quite good fun and you get to have a chat afterwards. I don't really know many of the South African or Australian players very well, except Wallaby hooker Brendan Cannon - he's a good chap and we have a friendship off the field."