Highlanders maintained routine during bye

Date published: May 24 2016

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Highlanders assistant coach Scott McLeod insisted that it was business as usual during the defending champions bye week in Round 13.

The different approach from the coaching staff saw the Dunedin outfit resume with normal training sessions during their second bye week.

Their first break came after seven consecutive, in April, and after two hard fought victories against the Chiefs (26-13) and Crusaders (34-26) the Super Rugby champions will want to maintain the momentum gained from those two victories.

The Highlanders are five points adrift the table topping Chiefs in the New Zealand Conference table, and with away matches against two of the newcomers, the Kings and Jaguares, still in hand they will fancy their chances to bag the maximum log points from both of these encounters.

McLeod felt the regular practice routine was needed in order for them to prepare for a re-match of last year's final with the Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday. 

"We felt as though we'd keep working through and try and keep the momentum through to the Canes and then we can have a break after that," McLeod told Stuff.

"The boys played well against the Chiefs and Crusaders and now we've got another high class opponent."

Jason Emery has served his four-week suspension after he took out Sharks full-back Willie le Roux in an aerial contest, in Round Nine, and will be available for selection against the Wellington outfit.

"His attitude has been fantastic, he's been there for the team helping them to prepare," he said.

With the June international Test period commencing next week, McLeod was coy about the possible break in momentum that this causes for those players not getting game time during this time.

"Yeah it is what it is, you've just got to carry on with it," the 43-year-old former All Black player said.

The visitors narrowly edged the Hurricanes 17-16 in the Round Two clash after Hayden Parker slotted a penalty conversion five minutes before the hooted sounded.

McLeod expects the 'Canes, who are just one point behind the men from Dunedin, encounter to be no different to the tight contest that was offered back in March.

He anticipates the five players, who were dropped following a missed team curfew while on tour in South Africa, to bring the neccessary talent and skill to outclass and outsmart their fellow countrymen. 

Victor Vito, Cory Jane, Chris Eves, Julian and Ardie Savea were all forced to the sideline during the win over the Reds before last weekend's bye.

"Normally little indiscretions like that strengthen a group, it brings them tighter," McLeod added.

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