Lung-busting return for nervous Squire

Back after two years away and Liam Squire admitted it was great to get out on the field.

"The lungs definitely felt it.

"It’s been going on 12 months to the day since I have played.

"You can do all the running in the world at training but it is that match fitness you need," Squire said.

"That was probably the most nervous I have been for a while.

"I have come off the field with no niggles so that is always a bonus but it was not the result we wanted. We did not make the most of the chances."

The loose forward said his fitness was not where it needed to be but he would continue building.

Once he crossed the white line he got excited to be playing at this level again.

He put a big tackle of Sam Whitelock just after getting on the field and said he enjoyed it.

Squire has had surgery on his hip and knee and taken time to recover.

HIghlanders coach Tony Brown said the side was not far away and was not too downhearted with the loss.

"I think we did some good things in that first half. We did not get a lot of gain line but we got a lot of penalties.

"That is the battle against a quality team.

"They are not going to give you anything, they are going to shut down the space and they are going to push to the letter of the law," Brown said.

He said the players off the bench did a great job and made a big impact.

"We are not far away and when we get those opportunities we need to take them."

Brown said the statistics reflected where the game was at the moment.

"If you look at tonight’s game that is what is sad about rugby at the moment.

"We have 60% possession, 60% territory, we only concede eight penalties.

"They are conceding 19 penalties and numerous penalty advantages against them and two yellow cards and they still win.

"That is the sad thing about footy," he said.

"That is why they are successful as well.

"They can sustain multiple penalties and stop teams scoring. That is what they are a quality team."

The Highlanders performed the Hautoa Kia Toa haka at the start of the game.

It was was something the team had wanted to do for a while but it would not be performed at every game.

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