Highlanders ‘all in good shape’

Highlanders loose forward Dillon Hunt (left) and wing Waisake Naholo goe through drills at team...
Highlanders loose forward Dillon Hunt (left) and wing Waisake Naholo goe through drills at team training yesterday. Photos: Gregor Richardson
Looks like most of the Highlanders stuck to one helping of Christmas pud.

Hooker Liam Coltman catches the ball.
Hooker Liam Coltman catches the ball.
That is just as well, as coach Aaron Mauger had a reasonably testing day planned yesterday.

The Highlanders had their first day back on the job following a two-week break during the festive season.

"Everybody is in good shape," Mauger said when asked if anyone came back a little portly.

The Highlanders had some fitness testing in the morning followed by a training session in the afternoon.

The All Blacks will join the squad at the end of January, while the Japan-based players, including Tom Franklin, will drift back during the next few weeks before the Highlanders’ opening pre-season game against Waratahs in Alexandra, on February 1.

That is still the best part of four weeks away but Mauger said there was a lot of "content" to get through to get their systems in place, so training would certainly stay fresh.

Aaron Mauger
Aaron Mauger

There are no new injury concerns. Franklin scored a try for the Kobe Steelers in the convincing 55-5 win against Suntory Sungoliath in the final of the Japan Top League in mid-December.

He carried a rib and wrist complaint into that game but Mauger said he was fit.

Prop Siate Tokolahi had an operation on his knee near the end of last season and is "on track to be ready for round one" against the Chiefs in Hamilton on February 15.

The Highlanders will play the Crusaders in Southbridge the weekend before their opening Super Rugby match.

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