Highlanders not getting ahead of themselves

The Highlanders are not going to go straight to bonus-point mode in their must-win match against the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday night.

The side sits second in the ladder of the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman Competition and to some extent has its destiny in its own hands as it looks to make the final.

It could end up finishing fifth or go top of the table.

In a competition which has some fairly valid questions about it, the Highlanders have won all four games but could miss out even if it wins in Canberra.

If teams finish on equal number of points it first goes to most wins and then points differential.

Reality suggests it will go to points differential and the Highlanders are 11 points ahead of the Crusaders and 27 points behind the table-topping Blues.

But the Highlanders are not getting the calculators out and mapping scenarios.

The game is about playing well and winning. Other stuff comes later.

Highlanders assistant coach Riki Flutey said the need to get a bonus point was not a priority going into the game.

"We are not putting that extra pressure on ourselves as we want to go into the game with control, making sure we are not loose with our structure," he said.

"We have talked over the last few weeks making sure we are not loose with our skill sets and ball carries.

"A big focus for us is to keep control of the game and hopefully we can put them under pressure and we will score points."

The side had a short week after playing last Saturday in the big win over the Waratahs but Flutey said it should not be a problem.

"We’ve had short weeks a lot this year but in terms of our preparations, it is going to be a key for us — just making sure we get the clarity we need and get the travel plans right."

The Highlanders will leave for Canberra tomorrow, have a few hours to kill in Christchurch before flying to Sydney and bussing to Canberra which will make for a long day.

Flutey said the travel should not be a hassle.

"We are used to it. We have done that with the last couple of weeks. It is just what it is."

The Brumbies lost their first three games of the competition — all in New Zealand — but beat the Hurricanes 12-10 in their first game back in Canberra.

"Watching that game against the Hurricanes, you just saw the intensity they bought to that game.

"Also we know they play really well at home; they’re coming off a win.

"We are going into, as we do against all the Aussie teams, with respect for them, respect their game."

Flutey said emphasis was on holding discipline and getting the Brumbies away from their strong breakdown and mauling play.

"It is about not giving them the opportunities — something we have talked about.

"It is something everyone can drive on the field. We have a call to get us half a yard onside. We are clean around that ruck area."

Flutey confirmed there were no fresh injuries out of the match against the Waratahs last Saturday night.

Utility back Sio Tomkinson left the field after taking a blow to the neck but he is expected to be fine for this week.

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