Blues no easy opponent: Delaney

Akira Ioane on the charge for the Blues against the Sunwolves at the weekend. Photo: Getty Images
Akira Ioane on the charge for the Blues against the Sunwolves at the weekend. Photo: Getty Images
The Blues are up next and any talk of easybeats has been dismissed by the Highlanders.

The southern franchise will take on the Blues at Eden Park on Friday night, looking to bag a double over the perennial New Zealand conference cellar-dwellers.

Highlanders assistant coach Glenn Delaney said the Blues were a quality outfit and results had simply not gone their way.

``They are a very good side and they have some outstanding players. The results have not necessarily gone their way but that does not make them an easy proposition at all.

``They have threats all across the park. They have got good structure . . . there is a challenge there - a team playing on their home patch and we have to prepare for [that],'' Delaney said.

``We know how good they are. I could not typecast them as any sort of side. They are a team with outstanding individuals and a good coaching team.''

Delaney took encouragement from - in the end - his side's comfortable 43-17 win over the Brumbies on Saturday night at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

He said the Highlanders controlled the territory a bit better which took the pressure off.

``It is the old adage. If you play in the right part of the field then you will probably get a return. Teams in New Zealand tend to be very ambitious and like to counter-attack.

``It is like stating the obvious. There are some teams you want to play against from deep as their kick-and-chase line is not based together. We don't see that much from Kiwi teams and the kick-and-chase line from the Blues will be good.

``We go back to our opening game against the Blues and they could have won that game quite comfortably. So forewarned is forearmed in my view. We have seen a first-up taste of how good they are and we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to deal with them.''

He said the focus, though, had to be on their own team.

It was the fifth derby game for the Highlanders in their opening seven games.

Chiefs coach Colin Cooper had called for derby games to be reduced as he said it was too physically demanding on the players.

Delaney, though, felt the derbies were great for players and the fans.

``I think if you get a bit romantic, and I'm a bit of a rugby tragic, but you go back to the days of NPC rugby and the big clashes you had back then. You look at the home derbies in Super Rugby and they are great contests. Everyone waits for them with bated breath.

``What we have done is [give] the public a taste of what it is like and I'm pretty confident they want more of the same.

``That rivalry has always been very tribal and you go back to the provincial game over the years, that rivalry, is a big reason you get people out.''

The Highlanders had picked up no injuries from the game against the Brumbies and would leave from Auckland for South Africa on Saturday, taking a squad of 27 players.

They will play the Bulls and the Sharks in South Africa.

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