Highlanders move on to Chiefs

Clarke Dermody
Clarke Dermody
The Highlanders have played a game this season, and last year played a game in front of no-one which is going to help them as they face off against the Chiefs this Friday night.

The southern franchise will head to Hamilton to take on the Chiefs, who had a first-round bye and are yet to take to the field in a competitive match.

The match will be played behind closed doors because of the Covid-19 restrictions and the Highlanders were working through transport options yesterday.

The side had been set to travel through Auckland to get to Hamilton but was looking for another route yesterday.

It is coming off a disappointing 26-13 loss to the Crusaders last Friday and the team had already put the game behind it.

Highlanders assistant coach Clarke Dermody said everyone was available which was great. There had been the usual bumps and bangs but nothing serious.

Looking back at the Crusaders game, he said it was a tough loss to take.

"To win the game we probably lacked a bit of intensity in the first 20 minutes and a lack of execution in their 22.

"We had heaps of opportunities but were just not quite clinical enough," he said.

Dermody said the best way to fix those errors was on the training paddock, putting players in that position as much as they could at training.

"Then put it front in mind and execute this weekend"

He said the old days of someone being instantly called out if they did something wrong at training had long gone and it was more about the team driving standards.

There was comment after the match about the high number of penalties conceded by the Crusaders and Dermody said the side from Christchurch simply played right on the edge and referees had a tough job as well.

Dermody said the Chiefs would be waiting for the match and would not hold anything back.

"They’ve had another week to get ready but in saying that, having a game under our belts and being put under pressure is going to be good for us.

"What we’ve learnt in this competition is you can’t hold on to a game for too long. You’ve just got to move forward.

"Coaches might hold on for it for a bit longer. But we’re pretty quick to move on, do the review with the guys and move on to the next game."

The Highlanders hosted the Hurricanes last year at Forsyth Barr Stadium without a crowd so had experience of playing in front of empty stands.

"The players enjoy playing in front of a crowd. It can be quite eerie, playing in front without [a crowd]. But the players need to prepare for no crowds, as it is a bit different.

"All you can do is have a discussion and what it is going to be like — quiet, not that hum you get at a game."


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