History says they'll struggle to win this weekend.
The Highlanders took on the Hurricanes in round four of the Super 15 in Wellington on Saturday night.
Highlanders lock Jarrad Hoeata made a low-key but safe return from injury yesterday.
Andrew Hore admitted he did not have to look far for motivation to play a good game on Saturday night.
Highlanders fullback Ben Smith will have the rest of the week to get himself right for Saturday night's Waratahs game.
It has been a tumultuous week off the field for rugby in Otago.
Even today's Oscar-winning script writer would be hard-pressed to come up with this pot-boiler.
Injured Highlanders first five-eighth Chris Noakes is still a chance to play in the derby match against the Crusaders but Colin Slade is a definite non-starter.
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph talks to Otago Daily Times sports editor Hayden Meikle and ODT rugby columnist Paul Dwyer on the eve of the 2012 Super Rugby season.
The Highlanders have been beaten 40-19 by the Crusaders in a Super 15 pre-season game in Greymouth today.
Jimmy Cowan enjoyed a rest but is ready for the hard work to begin.
The Highlanders will go into their first game of the season with nearly a third of their side unavailable and the side's two Japanese-based players unlikely to fill the gaps.
The Highlanders have suffered a big blow more than two months out from the start of the Super 15 with lock Jarrad Hoeata ripping his pectoral muscle.
The injury curse has continued for Colin Slade, who is scheduled to have a hernia operation today.
Hosea Gear will get his first outing in a Highlanders jersey tomorrow while a couple of King's High School old boys will patrol the midfield.
Sonny Bill Williams will miss the Chiefs second pre-season match against the Highlanders in Queenstown tomorrow but will suit up for their final hit-out against the Hurricanes next weekend.
Hoani Macdonald never thought he would be seen again in the Highlanders jersey, but it is one chance he intends to take.
The Chiefs jumped out of the blocks and managed to keep out a fast finishing Highlanders outfit in Queenstown today.
Coach Jamie Joseph says competition for places should make the Highlanders better, although time is running out to get everyone fit.
The Highlanders do not play a home game for nearly three weeks but their season ticket sales already exceed last year's.