South African sides may be sitting at the top of the Super 14 table but Highlanders assistant coach Peter Russell says their true ability will not be known until they leave the country.
The Durban-based Sharks Super 14 rugby team is training in Queenstown this week before its match against the Highlanders at Carisbrook on Saturday night.
In another Super 14 rugby result of cricket proportions, a rampant Bulls team was too clinical and powerful for the Highlanders in running up a 50-35 win at Loftus Versveld stadium, Pretoria, this morning.
This really is backs-to-the-wall stuff. Shorn of three of their best players, coming off a scoreless performance and going up against the defending champion in its own back yard, where it hasn't lost for 13 matches - it is not going to be easy for the Highlanders in Pretoria tomorrow morning.
The dropping of Adam Thomson and Michael Hobbs from this week's Super 14 match has just made a hard job even harder, Highlanders chief executive Richard Reid says.
North Otago is still waiting to appoint a coach for this year but has named an assistant coach.
All Black halfback Jimmy Cowan had his 28th birthday ruined when the Highlanders suffered a severe 33-0 mauling from the Stormers at Newlands in Capetown this morning.
Conceding penalties through their own indiscipline was extremely costly says Highlanders coach Glenn Moore as he was left to rue his heaviest defeat while in charge of the side.
The Highlanders will have to do without captain Jimmy Cowan when they play the Bulls in Pretoria this weekend.
Highlanders Super 14 rugby captain Jimmy Cowan returns to New Zealand today after dislocating a finger during his team's 0-33 loss to the Stormers in Cape Town at the weekend.
The Highlanders have gained their first victory of the season - now they need to make winning a habit.
The Highlanders injected some life into their Super 14 rugby campaign with a 31-24 defeat of the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein this morning (NZT).
The Highlanders were buoyed by the impressive win against the Cheetahs but coach Glenn Moore remains wary of the Stormers.
It may seem hard to believe after his barnstorming performance on Saturday night, but Michael Hobbs has been not allowed to run for most of the past year.
Coach Glenn Moore and captain Jimmy Cowan were singing from the same song sheet after a familiar opening-night performance in Christchurch on Saturday.
Tom Donnelly bristled at suggestions the Highlanders are already locked on a familiar Super 14 rugby path of woe as the competition's nearly men hope history repeats itself in Bloemfontein on Sunday (NZT).
A school-based programme is being introduced by the Highlanders rugby team this season which will target low-decile primary schools and deliver messages around healthy eating and physical activity.
The Highlanders team has been named for their Super 14 rugby match against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, on Sunday morning (NZT).