The shadow boxing has been done - now the real competition gets under way.
As Marty Banks gets comfortable in his third stint with the Highlanders, he says he never tires of the South.
Outside back Josh Timu, who has barely played for Otago let alone the Highlanders, has joined the Sunwolves.
The Highlanders will head into six straight derby matches with plenty of selection puzzles and the need to become more ruthless when opportunities arise.
The Highlanders aren't hiding their plan to target Rebels playmaker Quade Cooper in their Super Rugby clash tomorrow night.
The Rebels have brought Wallabies pair Adam Coleman and Reece Hodge into their squad for their match against the Highlanders on Friday.
The Highlanders have made a raft of changes for their match against the Rebels in Melbourne tomorrow.
It will be a different looking Highlanders team that takes the field against the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday night.
Highlanders assistant coach Mark Hammett says his side will have to lift their game against the Rebels in Melbourne this weekend.
The Highlanders are on the road for the next two weeks and will be hoping All Black loose forward Liam Squire can finally get on the park.
The Highlanders seemed to have to win last night's game against the Reds about three times, coach Aaron Mauger said last night.
Highlanders hooker Ash Dixon is slowly easing into his work - although his passport and suitcases have had a busy past six months.
They might have been a bit unsure who all the adults were, but the children at Crackerjax Early Learning Centre in Green Island knew exactly what they were there for.