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Edmonds relishing his Highlanders time

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Saturday, March 28, 2015    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

The Hawke's Bay loosehead prop, who hails from Waipukurau in the southern Hawke's Bay, had time holding the tackle bags with the Hurricanes last year but that only served to whet his appetite for more rugby action.

It helped that he was part of a Hawke's Bay team who regained the Ranfurly Shield and then retained it for the summer break.

"Winning teams get watched, and winning Ranfurly Shield teams get watched even more," he said.

Having had and then lost the Shield, Edmonds and his team-mates appreciated the trophy when regaining it and were determined to hold on longer.

That is how it has worked out and no matter what else happens in his rugby career he will always be able to say he was part of a Shield-winning side.

He also had a taste of another level up with the Maori All Blacks last year on the end of season tour, something he appreciated as much for the special cultural benefits, and also different training approaches from what he had been familiar with.

For the moment that is to one side in his career as he focuses on concentrating to succeed at Super Rugby level.

And while there has been delight at having done so well in the first six rounds, a tough test looms on Saturday as the Highlanders host the Stormers in the first game of their Australasian tour.

Still smarting from their loss to the Hurricanes, there were some lessons from pressure situations for the side to absorb and Edmonds was no exception saying he had some lessons of his own.

It was all about not getting 'trigger happy' and to switching on faster to game situations as they evolved, he said. That was a work-on in training situations with sessions of extreme intensity.

From a scrummaging point of view, Edmonds said he has benefited by working with Highlanders forward coach Clark Dermody who had plenty of tips to hand on. A session with the Japanese international forward coach, Marc Dalmaso had also been valuable in the pre-season.

Like most props Dalmaso espoused the view that the longer the scrum continued the better it was for the men up front.

While the Highlanders had suffered with starting a week later than every other side in the competition they quickly put that behind them with some impressive displays. But they face a well-performed Stormers side on Saturday.

"They share that African mentality of physicality and strong collisions while all African teams seem to see combating the maul a weakness in New Zealand sides," he said.

The key for combating that for the Highlanders would be in picking the situation to deal with it, based on good decision-making.

It is all part of the education process Edwards has undergone. He has enjoyed being involved in the side and for getting the chance to show his wares, something that the watchers believe he is well capable of extending.