Colin Slade's availability for the start of the season is
still up in the air.
Highlanders assistant coach Scott McLeod said Slade was
making progress as expected and they were hoping he would be
right for the start of the season.
He was going through performance movement training at the
moment which meant he was just working on movements in line
with his first five-eighth position.
He had yet to do contact work but McLeod joked first
five-eighths did not make much contact in a game anyway.
Slade suffered some serious injuries in his two years with
the Highlanders and a broken leg had ended his season in
March last year.
He has steadily worked his way back to fitness but did not
strip for the warm-up game against the Chiefs last Saturday.
The side was training solidly this week, readying itself for
a warm-up game against the Crusaders at Oamaru on Friday
night. All Black midfield back Ma'a Nonu joined the camp
yesterday so all players are now with the squad.
McLeod said Nonu was keen yesterday and, although he was
likely to be blowing hard after his first game, he appeared
in good shape.
The side was beaten 36-14 in the match against the Chiefs in
Taupo McLeod said there were some disappointing aspects in
that game but was good to get out on the paddock and start
The side got to test its systems and start working on
McLeod said he had been nothing but impressed by his first
months in the South but knows the real work is about to
McLeod, a former All Black midfield back, is part of a new
coaching team at the Highlanders, and is enjoying working
with his fellow coaches and players.
''Obviously down here is a lot new for us as a family but so
far we are really enjoying it. I am getting to know the
players and the local guys down here and find out what a real
southern man is,'' McLeod said.
''I am enjoying the way people are very friendly down here
and that is one difference I have noticed.''
The Highlanders head to Wanaka next week for a camp, with
families included, before their final warm-up game against
the Blues in Queenstown.
Meanwhile, the Crusaders have named their side for the match
in Oamaru on Friday.
Israel Dagg will have a run at centre while All Blacks Wyatt
Crockett and Luke Romano come back into the team. Kieran
Read, Sam Whitelock and Dan Carter will not strip.
Former Highlanders winger Telusa Veainu has joined the
Crusaders as interim cover for the outside backs with both
Zac Guildford and Kurt Baker out.
The full opening round of the competition has handed the
Crusaders a bye so their first game is not until March 1
against the Blues at Eden Park.
To play Highlanders
Tom Marshall, Adam Whitelock, Israel Dagg, Ryan Crotty
(captain), Johnny McNicholl, Tom Taylor, Andy Ellis, Jordan
Taufua, Shane Christie, Luke Whitelock, Dominic Bird, Luke
Romano, Pa'ea Fa'anunu, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Codie
Taylor, Adrian Barone, Joe Moody, Jimmy Tupou, Jeremy Sua,
Willi Heinz, Robbie Fruean, Telusa Veainu, Joel Everson,