Highlanders re-energized after first win

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Fullback Conor Garden-Bachop said there was noticeable extra energy in the Highlanders camp after the weekend. But they couldn't dwell on that, as they needed to continue to build.


"We're almost there, we got the result, but the performance was probably still a little bit off. We know deep down we could still play a lot better, but the vibe is humming, which is good," he said.


The forwards were doing a great job and had won the game at the weekend with their tries. Garden-Bachop said the onus was on the backs to back their efforts up.



Prop Jermaine Ainsley, who has been part of the forwards' efforts, said he left the Rebels to regain the taste of New Zealand rugby because he hadn't played in the country since he was at Otago Boys' High School.


The three-Test player from 2018 said international rugby wasn't at the front of his mind because he had suffered several injuries, and he hadn't played consistently good rugby to get the call-up for the Wallabies. Achieving regular play was the first thing on his mind when joining the Highlanders.


"I'm enjoying playing with the boys, and learning new stuff every week, and trying to grow my game for the team," he said.


He said getting his hands on the ball more was enjoyable, something that happened more in New Zealand than what he had been experiencing in Australia. International rugby was the final goal, but he had to put in the consistent work to achieve that.


Speaking to the lineout mauls dominating games now, he said it was possible to cope with them defensively.


"If you get your technique right, everyone has got their area in the maul to stop. If everyone does their job, you can definitely stop the maul," he said.


The maul had been part of their preparation against Moana Pasifika and it worked well.


"It's good to know that it's in your back pocket, but there's a lot of good teams out there like the Brumbies, that we are going to play, that are mauling teams, so it's going to have to be better and better each week," he said.


Connor-Bachop said he had no problem with the maul producing tries.


"I'm happy to stand out there. As long as we are getting those points that's all that matters. If we get that 'W' [win] I'm a happy man," he said.


While their run of losses was frustrating, it still provided some good lessons for him.


"I'm happy to be playing footy, happy to be getting time in the saddle and in the 15 jersey as well," he said.

There was an extra incentive in the game because it could provide the first opportunity for him to play against his older brother Jackson.



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