McKay just looking to play his own natural game

Highlanders fullback Josh McKay looks to get involved at training at Logan park earlier this week...
Highlanders fullback Josh McKay looks to get involved at training at Logan park earlier this week. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
There are some big shoes to fill — just do not tell Josh McKay.

McKay (22) will start at fullback for the Highlanders tonight as the side looks to beat the Brumbies in Canberra.

The Canterbury man is in his third year at the Highlanders and, with the clean-out over the off season, now has the chance to cement his place in the line-up.

But he does not see himself as the next Ben Smith — the former All Black who clocked up 153 games for the Highlanders in 11 years.

McKay is not looking as being another Smith — not that it is exactly possible replacing a Highlanders great.

"I’m trying not to think about it. If I came in with that approach, I would get a little bit bogged down.

"I’m just trying to play my own natural game and influence the game how I can," McKay said.

"It is still early on and I’m keeping pretty grounded. For me it is about getting involved in the game — finding a way to get as many touches as I can. Then keep working on that aerial game."

Being a fullback these days has many roles. One of the most important parts of the job is about catching the high ball — teams are launching the ball in the air continually and McKay is right in the firing line.

"Those South African teams test you in the air. We can be better in the air, work a bit harder.

"It just comes down to practice — getting up in the air and committing. We can all work for each other. That front line can do a job to block legally."

McKay was a mixed bag last week — like most against the Sharks but he said it was not all bad.

"There are a a lot of positives we can take from it. With a game like that it can be easy to get bogged down in the negatives. In certain phases of the game we showed what we can do.

"There were just those one percentages which we need to cut out and when those chances come along take them.

"We know we can do better. We want to win some games and not be there just making up the numbers."

It was the first game for the Highlanders after the bye in the opening round so errors were bound to occur.

The Highlanders created opportunities but could not get the ball over the line often enough and the opposition was cutthroat when it needed to be.

The Brumbies will offer a strong driving game and will want to dominate physically, something with which the Highlanders struggled against the Sharks.

Big games for the Highlanders are needed from Shannon Frizell and No8 Marino Mikaele Tu’u.

It is too early to cast a verdict on the double playmaker roles of Mitch Hunt and Josh Ioane but they both need to feature in the game more.

It is a chance for Sio Tomkinson to bag a place on the wing although he will have his hands full as the Brumbies can push the ball wide.

Thunderstorms have been forecast for Canberra tonight.

 

Highlanders v Brumbies

Canberra, today, 9.15pm
Highlanders:
Josh McKay, Sio Tomkinson, Rob Thompson Josh Ioane, Jona Nareki, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith, Marino Mikaele Tu’u, James Lentjes (captain), Shannon Frizell, Josh Dickson, Jesse Parete, Siate Tokolahi, Liam Coltman, Ayden Johnstone.
Reserves: Ash Dixon, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Conan O’Donnell, Jack Whetton, Dillon
Hunt, Kayne Hammington, Michael Collins, Teraki Ben-Nicholas.
Brumbies: Tom Banks, Solomone Kata, Tevita Kuridrani, Irae Simone, Tom Wright, Noah Lolesio, Joe Powell, Pete Samu, Will Miller, Rob Valetini, Murray Douglas, Darcy Swain, Allan Alaalatoa (captain), Folau Faingaa, James Slipper.
Reserves: Connal McInerney, Scott Sio, Tom Ross, Cadeyrn Neville, Lachlan McCaffrey, Ryan Lonergan, Len Ikitau, Andy Muirhead.
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia).

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