Highlanders expecting fireworks in quarterfinal

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Thursday, July 20, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

They would have been disappointed at the loss and would have had 'a pretty fiery week' getting ready for the Highlanders, he said.


"It's a one-off game and they'll be like us, they'll be wanting to put everything into it. For us, we just want to concentrate on our plans and it's just about going out and executing them so we can put on a good performance that we're proud of."

Smith said he had been through a 'bit of a niggly time' with his ear condition and its timing had been unfortunate. It had caused him balance issues and some vertigo but there was rehabilitation work he could do for it and that had been the case over the last few weeks.

He was feeling much better and was looking forward to getting back into action.

"It wasn't a massive issue, it was just something that needed to be fixed and I've done that now so I'm looking forward to getting out there," he said.

The diagnosis that it was an ear problem had been a massive relief because if it had been concussion it would have required some thought on his future plans.

Highlanders coach Tony Brown said the side for the quarter final had been the hardest to pick during the season as all players were fit and ready to go.
The desire to put their best XV on the field was seen with Richard Buckman being named on the wing.

Rob Thompson had been playing well at second five-eighths while Buckman could play anywhere in the backline and that had been the rationale behind the decision, Brown said.

He took the view that the two earlier encounters between the sides were irrelevant.

This was a one-off quarter final where the challenge would be massive, he said.

"The Crusaders are a fantastic side, they've probably been the best side in the competition so for us it is going to be a huge challenge and we're not going to take too much out of what happened in the round-robin," he said.

It would be important to have their kicking game accurate if they were to create pressure and the penalty if they couldn't achieve that would be a lot of hard work coming back at them.

No.8 Luke Whitelock said the key for the Highlanders would be getting into positions to apply pressure on the Crusaders and then turning that pressure into points.

"The way they've been playing we have to be on top of our game if we want to get any sort of headway," he said.