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Highlanders Seek to Channel Gordon Hunter's legacy in Blues clash

Highlanders Seek to Channel Gordon Hunter's legacy in Blues clash

All BlacksMay 14, 2024

An added incentive for both the Highlanders and the Blues will be on their DHL Super Rugby Pacific game in Auckland on Saturday, with the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy also on the line.

It's a prize both teams savour, and Highlanders assistant coach Tom Donnelly said the trophy was important to the Southerners because of the man he was and the values he held.

"We'll be trying to channel that this weekend.

Donnelly said reviewing a game after a win was refreshing, but it was most pleasing to see things they had been working on come to fruition, although he said there were still areas to improve.

"Always, when you're getting results for the hard work you're putting in during the week, you take a little confidence lift."

They were always assured of a tough set-piece battle against the Crusaders, and Donnelly thought they executed their plans well.

He said each of the three locks they can call on at the moment, Mitch Dunshea, Fabian Holland, and Will Tucker, was training well during the week and doing their jobs when on the field, and he was happy with their current performance.

Dunshea pulled off two vital lineout steals in the last quarter, highlighting his comeback from an Achilles tendon injury.

"He's worked hard to get back to where he is. He's a quality player who spent a lot of time in the Crusaders, so his set piece work is something he's very good at. His return, in a funny way, has given everybody at the lineout a lot of confidence.

An epic Culture Round comes to a close!

Where does your team sit after the weekend?#SuperRugbyPacific pic.twitter.com/hg9UnKwaoY

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) May 12, 2024

"He adds a lot of composure because he's so experienced and when you get someone with a bit of composure leading your lineout it rubs off on other players."

Flanker Ollie Haig is in charge of the lineout calling, and he showed his perception with a critical call at the end of the game.

Donnelly said Cameron Millar's first five-eighths performance, scoring 27 points in the win, showed his maturity and that he was process-driven.

"He sticks to his processes during the week and sets his game up well, and we're just starting to see him get more game time and more comfortable at this level. He'll get better and better the more time he has.

"We forget that he was injured almost all last year with an ankle injury, so he's just fighting back to his best form. And we forget he's only 21.

"We've always said we've got a young squad. They're getting a bit of confidence and experience which we're starting to see on the field. It's always good for those boys to start to get a feeling of what it's like to win games."

A MONSTER showing in Auckland and Dunedin for Culture Round! 🤩

The crowd in Eden Park was the biggest regular season attendance in three years!#SuperRugbyPacific pic.twitter.com/BV5Eo9ZM79

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) May 13, 2024

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