Reds, not record, focus for Highlanders

Highlanders assistant coach Glenn Delaney. Photo: Getty
Highlanders assistant coach Glenn Delaney. Photo: Getty
The Highlanders may not have been beaten at home for nearly two years but it means nothing when every game kicks off.

The side will make its home debut for the season on Friday night when it takes on the Reds at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The team will be looking to make it win No15 in a row under the roof. That includes the victory over the British and Irish Lions in 2017.

The last time the side lost under the roof was against the Crusaders on March 4, 2017.

That is an impressive record but Highlanders assistant coach Glenn Delaney said in the end it was not one the team got wrapped up in.

"I think it is great if you are a statistician. But when you are rugby coaches and players, any time you start resting on statistics you have missed out on the opportunity and threat in front of you,'' Delaney said.

"The Reds are the only focus for us. If a statistician wants to add that to a record then that is great. But we are only worried about our performance.''

The side is coming off a first-up victory against the Chiefs in Hamilton and Delaney said it was a typical first-up game.

"Happy with the result as you would always be away from home. Some of the individual performances were excellent. We had some new guys who were new to this level and they did a really good job.

"But there are always things to work on. We had a really good start to the game and a really good finish.

"There is a little things in the middle we need to tidy up on. Just some little errors and some individual accuracy that we need to tidy up on.

"For many it was the first game at this level and we were up against some pretty good opposition. They attacked pretty well too and gave us a a couple of things to consider there.

"We had a lot of ball ourselves. We turned over some bits where we wanted to hang on to.

"It just wets the whistle and gives us something to work on. There is nothing desperate that stands out.''

He said there may be more players to come back into the side this week. The team was lucky with injuries which was always a positive for the coaching team and selection.

He paid tribute to the conditioning staff who worked hard in the pre-season and helped the side come home strongly in the final minutes in Hamilton.

The Reds had a bye in the first round so would be champing at the bit, Delaney said.

He said any team which played under Brad Thorn would not back down.

"The Reds will be fresh as they did not have a game. We will be a little bit more battle-hardened.

"They are a very physical direct side. They will be licking their lips in the collision and will be a good challenge.''

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