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Hore wins battle of wounded knee

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Sportal.co.nz     23 Apr 2010     Getty Images

The hooker was in jovial mood at training on Thursday, at one point describing the interest in his injury to his right knee as 'embarrassing' and that it was nothing more than a scratch.

The reality is a little different with Hore requiring daily injections to ward off infection and a scan to ensure no tendon damage before having the wound stitched.

"The most frustrating thing was that I've had to get injected on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and then Monday before they stitched it up while they cleaned it out," he said.

"The novelty of having a cut knee was well and truly over by Monday. There are seven stitches on the outside and about the same amount on the inside.

"The main reason it's taken so long is the place it is and the infection and the worry they had about it. But it's come good."

Hore's availability for the trip to Dunedin is a huge fillip for a team whose season is on the line.

"It is huge [this match]. We want to go down there and build on the second half we had against the Brumbies and play with our heads up and have a bit of fun really," the Dunedin-born rake said.

"Hopefully we can get down there and the forwards can get the set piece right like we have in the last couple of weeks and get some good ball and hopefully score some good tries and make a real game of it."

Recent results against the Highlanders have been tight with only five points separating the sides last year and four points and one point, respectively, the two seasons prior to that.

Coach Colin Cooper admitted a change in attitude would be required for this year's encounter with the under-performing Highlanders after perhaps taking their struggling opponents too lightly in the past.

"In the past we have cruised and just expected to go and plod along and win and they've come back at us," he explained.

"It's pretty simple mathematics as I've said before. If we lose it we're out. There's been some pretty strong words said about that."

Cooper has made just two changes to his starting line-up from last week. Bryn Evans replaces Jeremy Thrush in the second row, while specialist openside Karl Lowe returns from illness to rejoin the loose forwards which sees Nick Crosswell join Thrush in the reserves.

Tyson Keats' strong performance against the Brumbies last week sees him get the nod at half-back meaning Piri Weepu, who missed last week's match due to the death of his grandfather, will cover halfback and first five-eighths from the bench.

"You've got to reward performance and that's what's happened there," said Cooper of Keats' selection.

Weepu, who is off contract at the end of the year, earlier in the week revealed he was mulling over an offer from a French club and Cooper conceded his All Blacks half-back 'had a lot going on'.

"Piri with injuries and other things happening with him he's had to work hard to change his game.

"His form is … the bereavement, there's been a whole lot of things going on. He's got some good people around him to help him through all that as we're trying to help him through it."