Highlanders eyeing big win in Canberra

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The Highlanders have enjoyed a breakthrough season with a notable win in Christchurch over the Crusaders in Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa and find themselves in second place in the Trans-Tasman version.

Various permutations on the points table could yet deny the Highlanders a place in the competition final, but the basic requirement is a win in Canberra.

A bonus point would make life easier, but it would not be the priority in the game.

Assistant coach Riki Flutey said they wouldn't be putting extra pressure on themselves.

"We want to go into the game with control, making sure we are not loose with our structure.

"A big focus for us is to keep control of the game and, hopefully, we can put them under pressure, and we will score points," he said.

Preparation in another week of extended travel would be important. A stopover in Christchurch, and a bus trip from Sydney to Canberra on Wednesday, would make for a long day, but Flutey said it was something the Highlanders were used to.

They also know the Brumbies will be confident after achieving their first win in the competition, in their first game at home. They beat the Hurricanes 12-10 to end their winning run, and the intensity of the Brumbies' play was clear.

"We know they play really well at home, they're coming off a win," Flutey said.

The Highlanders would respect the Brumbies as they did all the Australian sides.

Discipline would be important for the Highlanders while denying the Brumbies the chance to utilise their breakdown, and mauling play would be a goal.

"It is about not giving them the opportunities. It is something everyone can drive on the field. We have a call to get us half a yard onside. We are clean around that ruck area," he said.

Midfield back Michael Collins faces an exciting end to his Super Rugby career should they make the final. Having posted his 50th Super Rugby game at the weekend, there is a chance, should the Highlanders make the final, it could be against his other Super Rugby side, the Blues.

Collins, 28, has signed a two-year contract with the Ospreys in Wales. He said although he qualified through his grandfather, he was not seeking to play for Wales.

Collins, Otago's captain over the last three seasons, has been a three-time winner in Ranfurly Shield challenges for the side but is looking forward to playing out of his comfort zone.

"You're comfortable playing at home. You need to put yourself in a place where you don't know anyone, don't have those direct support networks that are right beside you, he said.


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