Highlanders get reinforcements for Rebels

Date published: March 23 2016

Reigning champions Highlanders have been boosted by the return of three players from injury ahead of their trip to Melbourne.

The return from injury of three players have given the Highlanders a boost as the defending champions eye a fourth straight Super Rugby victory.

Wing Patrick Osborne has recovered from a hip injury, while lock Joe Wheeler and loose forward Dan Pryor have both overcome concussions to be in contention to face the Rebels in Melbourne on Saturday.

All three missed the side's 30-26 win over the Waratahs in Sydney on Friday.

Assistant coach Tony Brown said getting the trio back was huge, but said others had stepped up in their absence.

"Everyone who has been given the opportunity in the first four weeks has played really well, and everyone's putting a lot of pressure on the coaching staff for a spot in the 23," he said.

"It's pretty exciting for us as coaches that we've got enough depth."

The Rebels boast an identical three win, one loss record to sit second in the Australian conference.

Co-captain Shane Christie was wary of a side featuring four players who have played for the Highlanders – Adam Thomson, Tamati Ellison, Scott Fuglistaller and Culum Retallick.

"They're playing really well. They're not a team we're taking lightly. As long as our mindset is right, we won't be going to sleep," Christie said.

"It'll be a big challenge, same as every other week."