Blues know what to expect in Dunedin

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The Blues won that game 32-20 before Covid-19 caused both sides to miss their round five games at the weekend. Both are taking careful steps toward a return to health for their sides.


Highlanders' assistant coach Clarke Dermody said having played the Blues in their last game made the review-preview process easier.


"It's pretty fresh in the minds. The boys had a whole week to digest what happened in Auckland, and knowing that our plans weren't that far away is the main thing, seeing opportunities we didn't take.


"The boys are excited. Having gone through what they went through last week, they turned up yesterday, and there was good excitement in the group to be back. The team with the most energy will go a long way this week.


"They [the Blues] are playing a more upbeat style of footy. They still kick the ball a lot. That's something we need to expect. We didn't quite get that contestable game right after halftime. That's what gave the Blues field position and opportunities in our 22.


"It's pretty fresh in our mind and we know where we need to go," he said.

Dermody knows how important that energy is having been through Covid.


"I can only go by my experience, and I wasn't that well for a few days. I know people have dealt with it in their own way. I guess it's affected people differently," he said.


Dermody confirmed the Highlanders would field a team, although that would be dependent on using replacement players. Thomas Umaga-Jensen is likely to be out for a month due to a groin injury, while Liam Coombes-Fabling is out with a knee injury.


"It was great to see Thomas out there after a length of time on the sideline, and he was finding his feet well. We'll replace him, that's the way it is. We back our squad as deep as we need to go and whoever gets that opportunity I am sure is going to do a great job."


Dermody said at least the injury was not one of the hard knocks he had suffered in the past.


Players who succumbed to Covid last week were graduating into exercise and monitored as they resumed training. But some players who suffered later last week would not be available.


"I think you'll find a lot of teams that have gone through this will be in the same position. It's not something we've dealt with before. Teams will have to be able to adapt and make sure their squad is in a position to still play," he said.


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