Highlanders ready to face Sharks pressure

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has denied that they are short of energy as they head into the play offs and that they are excited about playing in the finals.

The Dunedin side have reached their first Super Rugby play offs in 12 years but if they want to stay alive they will need to improve as they have lost their last two matches.

The Highlanders have lost to the Crusaders and the Waratahs in recent weeks and Joseph points out that while they lost the matches they had been up against the top two sides.

“In this competition, when you play against the best teams, you have to play at your absolute best. And I’m not sure we have done that,” Joseph told the Otago Daily Times.

“In the last two weeks, we have really struggled to win our own ball. We did that the week before against the Chiefs and scored some really nice set-piece tries.

“I did not see any lack of spark in my team. We were getting a hiding but the guys just did not give in. I know with these guys they just won’t give in.”

Joseph said that the Highlanders should be proud that they made the play offs and that now is the time look forward.

“I could give you a list of quotes at the start of the season where no-one rated the team. But here we are off to Africa to play the Sharks, so that is pretty great.

“I’m rapt for the players. I think they have done a hell of a job and they deserve everything they have got this year.

“We have knocked off some big teams and we have lost some games we should have won but that is the Super 15 competition.”

The Highlanders will head to Durban with some confidence as they have already beaten the Sharks in Durban this year although Joseph concedes that the Sharks will be a lot more focused this time around.

“Every game we approach, we give it 100%, and last time we went to Durban and got the result. Every game has its own life. “

“So that game where we won over there is dead and gone. In fairness to the Sharks, they took us lightly and paid for that. I don’t think they will do that again.

“We are ready. What we know from the Sharks is they are pretty much like the Crusaders. They’ll kick it a bit. They’ll maul us. “

“Their game plan is pretty simple and they are a big pressure team,” added Joseph.

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