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Highlanders gear up for Australian roadtrip

Highlanders gear up for Australian roadtrip

All BlacksApril 9, 2024

Having been put through the mill over the past month playing the top four teams in the DHL Super Rugby Pacific competition, the Highlanders are heading to Australia to put lessons from those games into practice.

They lost 12-47 to the Hurricanes in their last outing before having their bye.

They return to play the Rebels on Saturday and the Reds in Brisbane a week later. The Rebels have won back-to-back games against the Waratahs (away) and the Fijian Drua (home) and are in fifth place on the ladder.

Highlanders assistant coach Dave Dillon said it had been a long bye week. It allowed players and coaches to spend time with families and friends and ponder the circumstances of their loss to the Hurricanes in their last game.

Having played the top four sides in the competition in the past five weeks, they are focused on improving against the Rebels.

"There were some tough games, but we've got to be better than our last performance.

"Our mindset is on moving forward, getting a good week's training here, and heading to Melbourne.

"The Rebels have faced some adversity regarding their future. They had a good win over the Drua in front of their crowd over the weekend. They managed to put together back-to-back moments and get the results.

"They are a good side, well-coached and with good balance.

"We've just got to get our game sorted, which we're working on this week.

"We're always looking for opportunities in how to be better. We were pretty disappointed with what happened against the 'Canes. There are no excuses. We've just got to get into this week.

"It was important after the 'Canes game to narrow down a few critical things, roll up the sleeves, and get into it.

"Everyone was pretty excited about being back into it. There was an air of disappointment about that result, particularly being at home. We'd been pretty good leading into it. But that's the nature of high-performance sport.

"We've got an opportunity to put it right this week."

There is hope that wing Jona Nareki has recovered from an ankle injury. He did light work on Monday, which would be a case of how he felt when waking up on Tuesday morning.

Lock Fabian Holland, loose forward Tom Sanders, and back Josh Timu are all on HIA return-to-play protocols after failing HIAs against the Hurricanes.

"I've never been involved in a game with three guys in that space but there are protocols those guys need to get through and that involves various dangers of exercise and running. They've done some work today and we'll see how they pull up tomorrow."

Lock Will Tucker is also close to returning. Over the weekend, he played half a game of club rugby and completed a good workload.

.@BluesRugbyTeam on 🔝

Where is your team sitting on the #SuperRugbyPacific ladder after round 7? pic.twitter.com/Kid4sKFZSk

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) April 7, 2024

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