Hunt kept faith to go and win bonus point

Mitch Hunt
Mitch Hunt
Luckily, Highlanders first five-eighth Mitch Hunt had not made holiday plans for this week.

Actually, luck had nothing to do with it.

Few observers were predicting a finish much higher than the middle of the pack for the Highlanders, Hunt believed.

But he held on to his faith when his side needed to travel to Canberra and secure a bonus-point win against the Brumbies in its last round robin match.

"I think we had every expectation [of making the final]," he said.

"We had a clear goal around the bonus point in Canberra. That was our sole focus.

"We gave ourselves that chance and actually won really well."

They beat the Brumbies 33-12 and the prize is a trip to Eden Park to play the Blues in the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final on Saturday.

Any holiday will have to wait.

"What is really cool about this group is the growth. When we look at ourselves from the start of this year to where we are now, there has been a great deal of growth amongst the group.

"We’ve found a little bit of our identity now. I think that is why we are here in this final."

The Highlanders finished fourth in the Super Rugby Aotearoa with three wins from eight games.

But the side has flourished in recent weeks. The added pressure of having to score tries had not eroded the team’s structures.

"I don’t think any team sort of really realise[d] how crucial those bonus points and the plus and minuses ... [were] going to be in those first few weeks," Hunt said.

"It does force teams to play more footy and try and get those tries and the bonus point.

"But none of that really matters now ... it is just going to be who can build pressure and ultimately it will be the scoreboard that matters," Hunt said.

"It will be our third time playing them this year and we know what they bring around their physicality. They’ve got a great group of guys — a lot of All Blacks in the group. It is going to be tough."

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