Hammett wants Highlanders' win to deny Crusaders

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

He was a hooker in the 2002 Crusaders side that won 13 in a row en route to taking out the Super Rugby title that year, but his concern this week was not so much about that record being broken but more about the Highlanders winning to end the Crusaders' run.
Hammett did say his memory of that 2002 season was the feeling of confidence that emerged the further into their run of wins the side went.

"I remember getting to a certain point in that season that you are so confident you want to keep going and not only win but win well," he said.

Hammett said he thought the contest had been at the back of players' minds for a couple of weeks now and it was a case of keeping composure and keeping their feet on the ground during the build-up.

The last game between the two, when the Crusaders unleashed one of their comeback efforts, had been a tough pill for the side to swallow but Hamment said in the long run the Crusaders probably deserved to win.

"Our last 25 minutes in that game wasn't our best effort and we learnt a lot from that game," he said.

It was no surprise the Crusaders carried favouritism into the game as they had won 13 in a row which said it all about how well they were playing.

"We know their strong [up front] but we've got a few things up our sleeves that we want to implement and you'll just have to watch to see what that is," he said.

Flanker Dillon Hunt had a glute injury and was resting during training on Tuesday while Lima Sopoaga had a slight calf strain. However, James Lentjes was back training having got through a club game at the weekend and was eligible for selection for the Crusaders game.

Playing at 2.35pm on Saturday would not have a big impact on the players, he said. They had a game in South Africa at that time and they also played the Sunwolves during an afternoon.

Utility back Richard Buckman said the Highlanders were looking forward to the game and felt they owed the Crusaders one after they had come back and won their earlier game this year.

He said the side's start to the season had been disappointing but the loss to the Crusaders had been something of a kickstart to the season and he hoped that continued at the weekend.

Buckman said it had been a slow start to the season for him with injury concerns but he felt he was getting towards his best form.

He said he was enjoying playing with centre Malakai Fekitoa who was in great form at the moment. His defence was of the highest quality and he always had your back in games, he said.

No.8 Luke Whitelock would be experiencing something new at AMI Stadium – playing on the opposite side from what he is used to with his Canterbury connection.

Success for the Highlanders would come from winning more big moments in the game than the Crusaders, he said.

It was beneficial for the side to have their loose forward ranks bolstered at this time of the season. Lentjes had worked hard on recovering from his elbow injury while flanker Dan Pryor had been getting more confidence on his knee and had come through club games recently.

He was impressed with the way Hunt had taken his chance with the side and he had played very well while getting through a 'massive amount of work' and he played 'a lot of rugby'.