Craig Newby will shortly resume normal service and stand-in captain Jason Macdonald has no intention of handing back a Highlanders side that does not have a win on the board.
Mike Delany is hardly a rookie but he will take one of the most significant steps in his career when he starts a Super 14 game for the first time tonight.
If Otago rugby is a microcosm of New Zealand rugby, then these are indeed trying times. Richard Reid is the new man charged with getting a faltering union back on track, and he tells Hayden Meikle why he thinks it shouldn't be difficult.
Waratahs 15 Highlanders 12 You can't fault the Highlanders for the commitment and effort they have showed in the first rounds of the Super 14.
Adam Thomson. He has had enough of being on the losing side but Adam Thomson can also allow himself some personal satisfaction at being where he wants to be.
Highlanders coach Glenn Moore has revealed his concern at the discipline issues and fundamental errors that are spoiling the promising signs his side has shown in the Super 14.
They are two of the less fashionable provinces but Hawkes Bay and North Otago are also genuine success stories. Rugby writer Hayden Meikle talked to the chief executives of the respective unions to get their feelings on where the game is heading.
New Zealnd rugby is littered with landmark years but few are more significant, in relation to the current climate, than 1999 and 2005.
Highlanders captain Craig Newby is ready to play but is unsure whether his fitness will allow him to start against the Hurricanes on Friday night.
This concludes the Otago Daily Times series, State of the Union, assessing the health of New Zealand rugby. Rugby writer Hayden Meikle sums up the issues and wonders what might lie ahead for our national game.
James Wilson knows he can kick, wants to kick, and is backing himself to kick the Highlanders to a much-needed victory against the Hurricanes at Carisbrook tonight.
Two prominent Hurricanes could be facing spells on the sidelines following Friday night's Super 14 game against the Highlanders at Carisbrook.
Highlanders 6 Hurricances 10 Deja vu. Another close loss and another bonus point, but the Highlanders are still frustratingly winless after four rounds of the Super 14.
Captain Craig Newby will wake up this morning and again wonder how the Highlanders failed to win their first game of the season last night.
There is still no decision on a replacement for No 8 Ezra Taylor and now the Highlanders may also have to resume the search for an extra winger.
New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew is excited Dunedin is to build a new roofed stadium, but has again emphasised the national body can give neither money nor guarantees to the project.
Ian Farrant believes Dunedin will have a world-class facility to show off at the 2011 Rugby World Cup and hopes a quarterfinal will be held in the city.