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Highlanders get hurry-up ahead of Sharks

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Lynn McConnell     22 Apr 2016     Getty Images

Coach Jamie Joseph said it didn't get much harder and it was vital they get some points in the bank from their game against the South Africans.

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The side were refreshed after their bye week, a bye Joseph felt had come a week too late after seven games in a row. They lost to the lowly Reds in their last outing and were keen to make up for that loss, he said.

That has resulted in some players being given sharp reminders by being dropped. Missing from the starting line-up are wing Patrick Osborne and hooker Liam Coltman.

"I was really disappointed in some of our guys. They didn't play as well as they could, certainly didn't play to their potential and really under-performed. If we're going to be a team that wants to achieve some of the things we achieved last year there's got to be an element of accountability around selection so that's what we've done," Joseph said.

"It was disappointing for us as a coaching team, we thought we had prepared really well. It's always a bit of a tough one in Brisbane, we haven't won there since 2005."
They were looking to rectify that loss against the Sharks, he said.

"They're looking to put in a really good performance against the Sharks. We all know and understand we're playing at home and the boys love playing at Forsyth Barr Stadium and they really respect the fans who come out and cheer for us so there's no doubt they will put in a better effort than they did against the Reds," Joseph said.

The absence of Ben Smith due to concussion recovery had meant the side was down on leadership against the Reds but they had put that behind them in their preparation to meet the Sharks, he said.

The Sharks were something of a different proposition to usual with several new forwards and they were playing the game a little differently, and were more like the style the Highlanders played.

"They kick the ball a fair bit but they've got some real X factor at the back with le Roux and Co., so it is going to be a really tough game for us. They've also come off a couple of losses so they'll be desperate, we're desperate and usually when that happens it is going to be a tough match."

Four of the side's next five games are against play-off contenders so it was a tough part of the competition.

"I think the next five games are going to be tough for a lot of teams, not just us. There are a lot of teams that are crowding the middle to top end of the ladder and there's some huge games this weekend."

Things would start splitting away over the next few weeks so the Highlanders needed to perform well and win, he said.