Lineouts a huge work-on for the Highlanders ahead of season opener

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Assistant coach Clarke Dermody said, "This competition, as we found out last year, is over pretty quick so every game is a big one, so we will treat it as it is."

 

He expected the Highlanders to be quickly into action. The side had shown their potential with two outstanding halves in their pre-season games, the first half against the Crusaders and the second half at the weekend against the Hurricanes.

 

Dermody said the Hurricanes game in Alexandra had been good for the Highlanders.

 

"We were pleased with the second half. The Hurricanes played well in the first half and put us under pressure.

 

"But to only be down by five points just before the end of the first half, with no ball and no territory, was really pleasing for our defence," he said.

 

"Our execution in the second half was great. We played a bit more territory and kept the ball in front of the forwards. It made it a bit easier, simplified the game a wee bit."

 

However, they needed to attend to poor results from their lineout and that had improved in the second half. They had looked at it this week and put some fixes in place because the Crusaders were dangerous in that area.

 

 

Dermody said the Crusaders would be ready to go, despite the number of All Blacks in the side who had limited preparation.

 

"Good players are good players. It doesn't matter how much pre-season they've had, how much rugby they've had. They'll be right on.

 

"Our guys are ready to go. While pre-season has been short, it's been pretty intense. You could tell leading into that last week they were ready for playing," he said.

 

It was still uncertain how long centre Fetuli Paea would be out with the ankle injury he suffered in Alexandra. He was sporting a moon boot as a precaution.

 

Japanese loose forward Kazumi Himeno has completed his isolation and had started his preparation for the side but was not ready to be considered for selection.

 

He was unlikely to play in the Highlanders back-up squad game at the weekend but they were keen to have him involved as soon as they could.

 

 

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