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Strong start a key for the Highlanders in Dunedin

Strong start a key for the Highlanders in Dunedin

All BlacksMarch 28, 2024

Recovering the good starts they had been getting this season will be the goal for the Highlanders in DHL Super Rugby Pacific on Saturday when hosting the high-flying Hurricanes in Dunedin.

Coach Clarke Dermody said the disappointing start against the Chiefs last week was due to being put under a lot of early pressure.

"We started chasing the game from 70 minutes to go, which we probably didn't need to. And that looked like us holding the ball a bit too much, getting deep and getting confrontational."

They have reviewed that and will attempt to return to where they were with their starts earlier in the season.

"The ball is going to be in play a lot this week, it will be dry, and the boys are looking forward to being back home and giving the Hurricanes a good run."

They were well aware of their record against New Zealand teams because it was a constant question. They were confident a win was coming and hoped it would be this week.

"It won't be through lack of effort."

All Blacks prop Ethan de Groot will start after recovering from a head knock. Saula Ma'u will play tighthead, as veteran Jermaine Ainsley is having a back issue assessed. That has seen Otago prop Rohan Wingham named on the bench with a chance to debut.

Your Highlanders team to take on the to of the table Hurricanes 🔥 pic.twitter.com/qfy6Gy15I2

— Highlanders (@Highlanders) March 27, 2024

"He's a local boy who's wanted this for the past couple of years he's been with us. He's been working hard and understands it will be a big challenge. The Hurricanes have been playing some good footy, especially up front, but he's had a couple of years scrumming against Ethan now.

Dermody said Lowe had shown versatility when moving from the wing to centre off the bench.

"He's played there for us already this season and he's had a full preseason, so he's game ready and excited to have a go and play there."

Supplementing Lowe's choice is the return of Josh Timu to the bench after 12 months off the scene with injury.

"It's been a good challenge for him because he has had a few injuries in his career. He had 40 minutes against the Crusaders' Knights last week, and looked good. He's a fit player anyway, so all we can do now is let him play."

Round 6 incoming! 🛬#SuperRugbyPacific pic.twitter.com/Vlg8WK0BCg

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) March 27, 2024

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