The two Cantabrians relishing their time down south

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Harmon said that the relationship had provided a different lead-up to the game. He had played with many of the Crusaders and knew their style of game well, but it was also an opportunity to savour playing his first game for the Highlanders against his old side.

 

"We put them under a lot of pressure, and we only gave them a few opportunities, but that's all they need and, unfortunately, we couldn't get the win. But we've learnt a lot from it," he said.

 

Putting that effort behind them it was straight into looking ahead to round two against the Chiefs in Hamilton.

 

It hadn't been the Chiefs year last season but with a new coach in Clayton McMillan they would be looking for better things, Harmon said.

 

"I've had a bit to do with him and he's an awesome leader, and no doubt he'll have the boys ready to go.

 

"He's definitely a coach who lets boys be themselves. The Chiefs have got a lot of skill and, no doubt, they'll be ready to show that," he said.

 

Harmon said he had made the move south seeking more opportunities to play and he relished the chance to be able to play a more complete game, not confined to 'tackle and jackal' but to use all his skills.

 

 

He was feeling niggle-free and was enjoying being able to perform to his best. It also helped to play in an atmosphere that was generated at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

 

As a player it was all you could ask for to play in front of crowds that produced such an impressive atmosphere, he said.

 

Punivai said being back for a second year with the side was enjoyable. He loved being in Dunedin.

 

It had been hard leaving his family in Christchurch but it was only a five-hour drive to go back and see them and, in the end, it was an easy decision to make.

 

There were some similarities with the Crusaders environment but there were also differences, notably the roofed Forsyth Barr Stadium that meant the Highlanders were able to play a certain style of rugby in the dry conditions.

 

Friday's result had been disappointing, but it had been a great occasion and there had been a lot of good things to take out of the game, he said.

 

"We've learnt a lot from it as well so hopefully we can put that in place this week," he said.

 

Improving their mindset in the way they started the game would be one goal while picking up the intensity would also boost their game.

 

"It's their first game, we're taking them on at home, so they'll be fired and ready to go, so it will be a good challenge," he said.

 

Having played their last game in 2020 without a crowd, the Highlanders knew what to expect but it was still an interesting experience to go through.

 

"But it won't affect the way we play," he said.

 

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