James Mortimer 08.Jul.2012Getty Images
The Highlanders will finish the season ninth overall, with their four competition points from the bye not enough to lift them higher, while they currently have an eight competition point buffer over the tenth placed Cheetahs.
The men from the Deep South won nine matches and lost seven, one win better than achieved during the 2011 season, but they will finish one place lower on the table than they 12 months ago.
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has been instrumental in making the team a competitive franchise, although they are still looking at breaking a Super Rugby Finals Series drought that will extend into its eleventh year next season.
Joseph has been coach of the Highlanders for two years, replacing Glenn Moore.
The former All Blacks flanker and Wellington coach told the Sunday News he wasn’t sure what the future held.
"I'm going to make some big decisions for myself and my family," Joseph said.
"I haven't thought about that at all yet, but come Monday that's the sort of focus I'll have.
"I haven't wanted to deal with the contract until the end of the season and we're at the end of the season now. I've got to make some decisions."
Joseph was disappointed the Highlanders closed off the season with back-to-back losses, but said perspective had to be taken, not only in the quality of opposition – but in considering where the Highlanders were as a team.
"We were playing the best teams in the competition,” he said.
“We played the Chiefs and they're at the top of the table and have beat nearly everyone in the competition and then we played the Reds, who won this last year.
"If you're comparing apples with apples, we're talking about the Highlanders, not the Bulls or Crusaders.
"You see six players in the All Blacks and guys like Aaron Smith come through and become All Blacks from nowhere, there are a lot of positive things about our season.
"But ultimately it is my responsibility to make sure we're winning every week and falling off these last two games, which were winnable, is disappointing."