Tue 15 Jul 2014 | 11:27
Highlanders reviving for the Sharks
Tue 15 Jul 2014 | 11:27
Highlanders reviving for the SharksSHARE
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph denies his side is lacking energy heading into the play-offs and says it is time to get excited about playing in the finals.
After a poor outing against the Crusaders in their last pool game the Highlanders know they will have to play much better if they are to be competitive in their long-awaited play-off match against the Sharks.
They never fired in Christchurch on Saturday, the 34-8 defeat from the Crusaders ensured they finished sixth in the competition and have to head to Durban to take on the Sharks.
Earlier this season, the Highlanders beat the Sharks 34-18 in Durban. The Sharks are not looking as impressive as they were at the start of the season, when they led the table for a long period of time.
The Highlanders' victory in Durban earlier this season would give the team confidence for this week, Joseph said, although he was sure the Sharks would be much more focused than last time the teams met.
"Every game we approach, we give it 100%, and last time we went to Durban and got the result," Josephs told the Otago Daily Times.
"Every game has its own life. So that game where we won over there is dead and gone. In fairness to the Sharks, they took us lightly and paid for that.
"I don't think they will do that again.
"We are ready. What we know from the Sharks is they are pretty much like the Crusaders. They'll kick it a bit. They'll maul us. Their game plan is pretty simple and they are a big pressure team."
Joseph said the side had played the best two teams in the competition in the past two weeks and that had to be acknowledged.
"In this competition, when you play against the best teams, you have to play at your absolute best. And I'm not sure we have done that,"Josephs said.
"In the last two weeks, we have really struggled to win our own ball. We did that the week before against the Chiefs and scored some really nice set-piece tries.
"I did not see any lack of spark in my team. We were getting a hiding but the guys just did not give in. I know with these guys they just won't give in."
He said the Highlanders should be proud of making the play-offs, and now was the time to look forward and concentrate on the first play-off game for 12 years for the franchise.
"I could give you a list of quotes at the start of the season where no-one rated my team. But here we are off to Africa to play the Sharks, so that is pretty great," the coach contunued.
"I'm rapt for the players. I think they have done a hell of a job and they deserve everything they have got this year.
"We have knocked off some big teams and we have lost some games we should have won but that is the Super Rugby competition."
If the Highlanders beat the Sharks, they will face the Waratahs in Sydney the following weekend in the semifinals.
Otago Daily Times