Highlanders ready for shot at glory against Blues

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Highlanders assistant coach Clarke Dermody was in no doubt about the job ahead of his side.

 

"It is one versus eight, and they have won 13 games in a row, so I'm pretty confident we can take the underdog's tag. It is going to be a hell of an ask," he said.

 

"We understand how good they are. They are the top seed for a reason, and earned everything they've got through how they played.

 

"We understand them pretty well, we've played them twice this year.

 

"We've played them a few times over the last few seasons and done well…well-ish. We didn't beat them this year but were in games for a long time so we can take heart out of that but we're aware of how hard it is going to be," he said.

 

Scrummaging was a concern ahead of the game. The Highlanders were disappointed with some aspects of the scrum against the Rebels. They understood the Blues' scrum would be completely different.

 

"They'll be a threat at scrum time, but we'll be looking to do everything we can to push them around a bit," he said.

Dermody didn't think the players rested by the Blues for their final pool game against the Waratahs would suffer because of the break. He said if any of his Highlanders players were offered a rest at that stage, they would have taken it.

 

Those players concerned were top professionals, experienced Super Rugby players and would be ready to go at the weekend, he said.

 

The fact it was a one-off, knockout game was a point in the Highlanders' favour.

 

"We know we haven't played our best rugby, hopefully that's in front of us and hopefully it's this weekend," he said.

 

"We're going to pick our best team and go up and give it a good crack," he said.

 

Shannon Frizell will be available after recovering from injury and playing club rugby at the weekend. That could be timely given James Lentjes was feeling the effects of a shoulder injury from the Rebels game on Sunday.

 

Frizell had done his rehabilitation well, but it would be challenge going from a club game for Taieri into a quarterfinal against the Blues, Dermody said.

 

"We've got to play well. That's the biggest thing, we have to play well as a team. We know the Blues are good, they're the best in the comp so far."

 

The Highlanders face the Blues at 7.05pm, Saturday 4 June at Eden Park. Watch live on Sky Sport NZ. 

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