Empty stadium not an issue

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger. Photo: ODT files
Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger. Photo: ODT files
Playing in front of an empty stadium should not have a big impact on the Highlanders.

Coach Aaron Mauger is confident his side will be able to handle the rather eerie sounds of playing in a covered stadium with no-one sitting in the stands.

A decision is due to be made today on whether crowds will be allowed or if the game will even go ahead.

Mauger said the intensity from the team would still be there, no matter if seats were full or not.

"We had our last full intensity training today and every last one of them were committed. From the 23 who are lucky enough to be playing to the non-playing 15 who trained pretty well today," he said.

The Highlanders have had a light training week after a tough game against the Crusaders last Sunday.

The side had come a long way in the competition, improving in seemingly every game and wanted to end with a strong performance.

"It is another opportunity for us to express our game and keep building. We have come a long way and this last opportunity gives us another chance to show us how far we have come."

Taranaki loose forward Tom Florence gets his chance to make his Super Rugby debut, coming on to the bench in the only change to the side which lost to the Crusaders.

Mauger said he had been impressed with the efforts of Florence at training and he had been playing well for Dunedin.

Mauger confirmed the players had been working hard around the training protocols at Level 2 and done everything asked of them.

He said Highlanders fans might not be with the team in the stand but they were always with the team.

It will be 150th game for the Highlanders for co-captain Aaron Smith while his co-captain, Ash Dixon, will play his 100th game of Super Rugby, having also played for the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes will be without TJ Perenara, who is missing the game as his wife is due to have their first child. Jamie Booth starts at halfback.

Dane Coles captains the team in his 119th game for the Hurricanes. He will overtake Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen’s record of 118 as the most capped forward in the franchise. Veteran prop Ben May will play his 98th and last game for the franchise while Ardie Savea plays his 99th game.

It will be disappointing Smith and Dixon may not have a crowd to celebrate their milestones but the franchise would do something next year, Mauger said.

Highlanders v Hurricanes

Saturday, 7.05pm


Highlanders: Mitch Hunt, Josh McKay, Michael Collins, Sio Tomkinson, Jona Nareki, Josh Ioane, Aaron Smith (co-captain), Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Dillon Hunt, Shannon Frizell, Jack Whetton, Pari Pari Parkinson, Siate Tokolahi, Ash Dixon (co-captain), Ayden Johnstone.

Reserves: Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Jeff Thwaites, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Folau Fakatava, Ngatungane Punivai, Tom Florence.

Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Vince Aso, Billy Proctor, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Wes Goosen, Jackson Garden- Bachop, Jamie Booth, Ardie Savea, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Scott Scrafton, James Blackwell, Tyrel Lomax, Dane Coles (captain), Ben May.

Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Tevita Mafileo, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Liam Mitchell, Devan Flanders, Jonathan Taumateine, Salesi Rayasi, Chase Tiatia.

Comments

Positive cashflow was never a requirement because you the ratepayer can keep paying the $10-15 million pa interest cost plus principal, and that is before depreciation/maintenance. The perpetual black hole sucking out 10% of your ORC/DCC rates every year.

"Empty stadium not an issue"

As a ratepayer, I beg to differ.

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