Highlanders welcome back key personnel for Hurricanes clash

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The Highlanders are welcoming a greater depth of player resource to choose from.

 

Lock Pari Pari Parkinson is back in the frame after having undergone an ankle reconstruction. Prop Ayden Johnstone returns having completed concussion protocols, while Japanese signing Kazuki Himeno may make his first appearance among the side's loose forwards.

 

However, there was still no word whether the former All Black flanker Liam Squire would be fit to play after hip and knee surgeries.

 

Wing Jona Nareki, who suffered a hip injury against the Blues, is expected to be available.

 

With the bye week to reflect on their outing in Auckland, the feeling was the Highlanders hadn't got into their game plan as much as they wanted, and the Blues had been able to dominate by getting into their set-piece game.

 

While the concentration on forward play and rolling mauls had its detractors, Dermody wasn't one of them.

 

"It's a great part of the game for me, it's what makes rugby [the game it is].

 

"There is a heap of technique involved, and as a coach, we try and highlight that. It is not always the biggest guy winning.

 

 

"I reckon that is great for any team to can stop each other. It is us being technically better and there being a bit more intent in those moments," he said.

 

The Hurricanes would be heading south seeking their first win of the season after a disappointing start.

 

"We're prepared for anything, they're a team that's hurting, and they're a dangerous team. You saw how quickly they scored points in that first half against the Chiefs, and that's what we're expecting, so our challenge is to not give them that space.

 

"The nature of this competition is that anyone can beat anyone. Unfortunately, for them, they have been on the other side of those first three games," he said.

 

While they were capable of unleashing devastating attacks, they had also failed to seal off leads to go on to victories.

 

"We know the attacking threats they have got, they starting their set-piece a little more against the Chiefs. So we know they are a threatening team. If we allow them space and time, they can punish you pretty quickly," he said.

 

Parkinson would add plenty to the side when returning to action.

 

"He just adds a different element to our forward pack. He is obviously a big human. We will be taking it easier with him because of how long he has had off," he said.

 

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