Highlanders go behind closed doors

Tue, 26 Jul 2016 13:03

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Highlanders stepped up the their build-up to the Super Rugby semifinal behind closed doors on Tuesday.

The team that has collected almost 50,000 air-miles in the past month - included circumventing the globe in a three-week marathon - will meet the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.

And Tuesday, less than 24 hours after landing in Gauteng, they had their only full training session of the week ahead of Saturday's Ellis Park showdown.

And they chose to do so behind closed doors in a wet and cold Johannesburg.

They started the session with a brief warm-up session, before asking the media to leave their training base at St Stithians College and then continued to plot the Lions' downfall away from any prying eyes.

The Highlanders will also have their traditional light captain's run at Ellis Park on Friday.

The defending Super Rugby champions will look to defy the odds and a absurd travelling schedule - which has seen them start with a short hop from Dunedin on New Zealand's South Island to Wellington just the other side of the Cook Strait, then on to Port Elizabeth in South Africa, Buenos Aires In Argentina, completing the global circumvention when they headed back to Dunedin, then hopped across the Tasman Sea to Canberra in Australia, before heading to Johannesburg.

The Highlanders finished second in the New Zealand conference during the regular Super Rugby season and they advanced to the last-four of the competition courtesy of a 15-9 quarterfinal victory against the Brumbies in Canberra last weekend.

The Lions finished their Super Rugby campaign in second place on the combined table, before they sent the Crusaders packing with an impressive 42-25 victory in Johannesburg last weekend.

The two teams met earlier this season in a Round Three match in Dunedin, with the Highlanders winning 34-15.

The Lions had started their road trip with a (26-13) win over the Sunwolves in Tokyo, then beating the Chiefs 36-32 in Hamilton, before falling flat against the Highlanders in Dunedin - travelling just over 23,000 kilometres.

It would be interesting to see how the Highlanders cope with a travelling schedule that involved more than double the distance the Lions had to endure - especially when the game goes in the deep end of the final quarter.

@rugby365com

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