Must-win Melbourne clash awaits the Highlanders

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The Force won their catch-up game with Moana Pasifika 48-28 in Auckland on Tuesday.

 

The Force return to Perth to host the Hurricanes on Sunday morning (NZT), so the Highlanders will know what is required before the game.

 

Having the best possible preparation is the demand of the Highlanders' coaching team, especially after they were unhappy with aspects of their build-up to their 20-32 loss to the Waratahs.

 

Assistant coach Riki Flutey said the players had to be ready to avoid surprises going into the game.

 

"We have to be better, particularly going over to Melbourne with the travel, this week's prep has to be massive. We need to get the outcome.

 

"Their training habits and the things they do in training, the extras they do in training, is all around preparing to be awesome and to put an awesome performance out," he said.

 

But dealing with their issues at first five-eighths will be on their minds after Sam Gilbert's four-week suspension after his red card tackle on Waratahs' flanker Michael Hooper.

With Mitchell Hunt unlikely to complete concussion protocols before the weekend, Marty Banks and Vilimoni Koroi were the only options available.

 

So will concerns over two of their midfielders, Thomas Umaga-Jensen and Fetuli Paea. Umaga-Jensen had a stiff back that prevented him from playing against the Waratahs, while Paea has a tight quad.

 

Flutey said the performance against the Waratahs had been poor.

 

"You look at our attack side and we were loose – we were loose in the carry, trying to offload when we hadn't dominated collisions and didn't sight the target, all those little things," he said.

 

Flutey was critical of silly penalties the side gave away that allowed the Waratahs into the game.

 

"Offside – that's a simple one. That's an easy one that we need to get right because over the last few weeks, we've been getting pinged for it, and letting teams off the hook with our momentum," he said.

 

Prop Daniel Lienert-Brown is set to play his 100th game for the Highlanders and confirmed on Tuesday that while off-contract this year, he is keen to remain with the side.

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