Highlanders to keep the pedal down
Highlanders to keep the pedal downSHARE
After claiming two four-try bonus points on their South African tour, the Highlanders are looking forward to an open game against the Lions next week.
The team from Dunedin will be back on home turf after an encouraging tour which saw them take seven log points from their two games, and coach Jamie Joseph is expecting more fireworks against the free-running Lions.
The visitors are coming off a resounding defeat at the hands of the defending champion Chiefs, and Joseph is expecting a major response from the Johannesburg side who have the advantage of already being in New Zealand.
"They play a running game of rugby and they will be playing under a roof and we have got to travel halfway around the world with about one and a half trainings so we have got to make sure that mentally we are ready to go," he said.
Joseph said that whilst his team's one-point defeat to the Stormers at Newlands was disappointing, he was happy with what they achieved in South Africa after becoming the first side to beat the table-topping Sharks in Durban this season and pushing the Stormers all the way.
"If you asked the team pre-tour they would have been happy with that, especially given the calibre of opposition we were going to play, but there is nothing like a game of rugby to change your goals," he said.
Joseph was full of praise for the Stormers who managed to score four tries of their own, and said that they have mentally turned a corner.
"You have to take your hat off to a very good Stormers team on the night, we thought and prepared for them to come out and play some hard rugby with an attacking mindset right from the very start and they did that.
"At the end of the day it was a very good performance from the Stormers right across the park, they had a plan and something that they haven't actually done so their preparation would have been just in training, so mentally I guess they have turned a corner," he said.
He explained that although his side are right in the mix in a congested New Zealand conference, they are not allowing themselves to think too far ahead.
"I'm not sure that we are the sort of team that can look at what happens at the end of the season with the tables, positions on the ladder and all the rest of it.
"We just have to prepare as well as we can for every opposition. The Lions made a great start and they won four, now they are on tour and there is nothing like getting a hiding to get yourself right," he said.
By Michael de Vries