Hammington can only sit and wait

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It's his job to prepare week in and week out behind one of the best halfbacks in the world in Aaron Smith.


But his attitude is similar to others whose lot it has been to be almost a permanent second stringer: hookers Warren Gatland behind Sean Fitzpatrick, Ron Urlich behind Bruce McLeod and halfback Lyn Davis behind Sid Going, to name a few.


However, Hammington is realistic enough to understand what that demands of him.


"The guy I am sitting behind is not too bad, is he? I love being here and love getting every opportunity that I can get. Hopefully, I can take them with both hands and keep him on his toes to a degree," he said.


It was natural to want to have a starting role but Hammington was also aware that he has his own competition for a bench role with Folau Fakatava looking for his chances.


Hammington said the role of bench play was something that players talked about. It was about not trying to do too much. It was still important to do your own role while offering energy at key moments with body language and voice and not being too overawed while staying in the moment.


"It was good to get that first win on the board. Canberra is really tough place to go and they are a quality outfit. They've got quite a lot of dominance in their forwards and that's where they get their wins so it's always good to come out with a win.


"We're pretty happy with the way our pressure and determination really held in there right to the end so we will just keep doing what we are doing and hopefully get a few more of those," he said.


In an ideal world that would be backed up at the weekend but the challenge of playing the Crusaders is something the Highlanders are well used to, not having beaten them in a Super Rugby game since 2015.


"They have set the bar in the last few years with how many titles they've got and Christchurch is never a very easy place to win. It is always an exciting one, going up the road, especially getting to play them at home."


Lock Josh Dickson said the win in Canberra had been a boost for confidence.


"We did leak in a few tries through our drive but we've got plenty of work-on there and it's up and forward from here hopefully," he said.


After conceding three tries to the Brumbies from their driving lineout maul Dickson felt the Crusaders would see that as an avenue they could explore.


The Highlanders, he said, had to be smart around how they approached it and sticking to their game plan but executing it better. They had been successful in countering the mauls last year and it was a case of revisiting what they did and executing it this time around.


They had plenty of respect for the Crusaders and knew they would have to give it their all in Christchurch if they were to be successful on Friday.


"They do everything really, really well all over the park and we've just got to be on point and do every job perfectly and put a lot of heart into it. That's all you can really do against a top team like them," he said.


It was especially important to be focused for the 80 minutes as the Crusaders were strong at the end of each half, and at the start of the second half.


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