Dixon proud of fight side showed

Ash Dixon. Photo: ODT files
Ash Dixon. Photo: ODT files
Highlanders co-captain Ash Dixon has come a long way in the past couple of years but another honour just eluded him on Saturday night.

In 2019, Dixon (32) was well behind team-mate Liam Coltman in the hooking ranks at the Highlanders.

But he seems to have visited the garden of youth since the start of last year, lifting his game to previously unseen levels and becoming not only the side’s co-captain but one of its best players.

Dixon gave his all on Saturday night, including receiving a yellow card for a high tackle on his friend, Otere Black.

Dixon has grown hugely as a leader and played by example, not giving an inch to the Blues on Saturday night, in a clash which also doubled as his 100th game.

"We are a team which is not going to die wondering. We are not going to roll over.

"We had to make some tackles and stop some big boys but we gave ourselves a chance," Dixon said.

"There were moments there where we did not quite win but we kept scrapping.

"And when we got to 16-15 we were right in the money there ... could not have been more proud of the team and the way we turned up tonight. We pushed the Blues really well."

The Blues had all the ball and field position.

The home side had more then two-thirds of the territory and made a dozen line breaks while the Highlanders did made a clean line break in the game, and had to make twice as many tackles.

Dixon said the team was never going to give in and he was proud of the way his players fought.

"Our budget is a lot different to other teams. We had 13 guys out [injured], we had one All Black out there, one Japanese international, against 10 All Blacks.

"To become an All Black is not easy. They could roll out an All Black front row, Paddy T [Patrick Tuipolotu], Hoskins Sotutu, Akira [Ioane].

"That is a big pack. We’ve got no All Blacks in our pack. But if we can sort out our game, get rid of injuries then we are right in the money."

Dixon, who is yet to sign for next year for the Highlanders but is expected to be back, said he was humbled by the reception of the Auckland crowd when he was substituted in the second half.

"To be honest, it was incredible. Just the amount of blood, sweat and tears for one club, it means a lot. My kids and wife were here and the looks on their faces — I could not really explain it.

"I was so grateful to play so many games. I’m not a guy who chases milestones, it’s not my thing.

"I was just fortunate I have been given a shot and just try to chase to be better. That is all I have done and I’m still trying to get better."

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