Highlanders give coach Jamie Joseph their backing

Highlanders general manager Roger Clark has confirmed that coach Jamie Joseph still has the Dunedin Super Rugby franchise’s full backing and says that criticism of midfielder Ma’a Nonu is “absolutely ridiculous”.

The Highlanders were tipped yo make the play offs this year after they had signed a host of big names.

However the Highlanders have not delivered on their pre-season expectation and have slumped to their seventh straight loss.

Add in the Highlanders three losses at the end of last season and they have lost their last ten Super Rugby matches.

This season’s losses have the Highlanders in last place in the Super Rugby standings on six points which is nine points behind the Rebels, Southern Kings and the Force.

Clark says that he and the Highlanders board have no doubt that Joseph is the right man to be in charge of the team.

“We picked him (Joseph) up a couple of years ago and re-signed him for another couple of years last year because of the results he has managed over the past couple of years,” he told ODT.

“Nothing has changed with that. The bottom line is the board and myself have got every confidence in Jamie. If anyone can turn it around then he can.”

Joseph has been joined by Scott McLeod and Jon Preston for the 2013 season replacing Simon Culhane and Kieran Keane as assistant coaches and Clark has also backed the new coaches.

“We selected them because of the qualities we thought they could bring to the role,” said Clarke.

“That hasn’t changed. It is a hell of a challenge for them in their first year, but they are doing a really good job. “

“It is a bloody tough job for them. They came into a new situation and they found themselves zip from seven. They are doing their best.”

“We are not far off. And the thing is, with this competition, it is incredibly tough. If you are even 5% off your game then you will be found out.”

Clark has also backed All Black second five-eighth Nonu who has come in for much of the criticism of the Highlanders.

“Personally, I think he has been one of our better players. Off the field and engaging with the community, he has been absolutely outstanding. “

“One of the best in the team. To criticise him and blame him for where we are is absolutely ridiculous.

“All of us are trying really hard for a win. I have been impressed by how tight the guys have stayed together. They are determined to turn it around.

“And we have got to remember this is only early days. We are in a competition which goes to July.”

“It is a long season. There is a lot of rugby to be played.”

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