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Lessons learnt leaves Highlanders in Better Position - Mauger

Thursday, April 12, 2018    allblacks.com    

Coach Aaron Mauger said last week's bye had allowed the side to freshen up and to reflect on their last two performances which they lost.

"We were obviously a little disappointed but we feel in both those games, although both teams were slightly better than us on the night on those performances, there were things in our control we could have been better with that could have influenced a different outcome," he said.

"I think a lot of the things we did we executed really well. Potentially we could have made some better decisions within our strategy so that was something that had a bit of an impact. I think if you look at the second half against the Chiefs, when we got that right we got ourselves in a position where we could have won the game.

"The good thing for us there is we are learning on the run in the game and we were able to adapt and put ourselves in a match-winning position.

"I think we've managed to rectify those things and look forward to testing it on Saturday night against the Brumbies," he said.

There had been some good perspective from the group about their losses and they were looking forward to having a crack at the Brumbies. Shannon Frizzel has been preferred at blindside flank ahead of Elliot Dixon who offered the team a lot coming on as a substitute later in the game.

That had been reflected in the win over the Crusaders when Dixon came on and had such an impact he was named man of the match. He also covered all three loose forward positions.

Lock Alex Ainley returns to the side on the bench having suffered a blood clot earlier in the season and had been on blood thinners which prevented him playing. He had a club game last week and performed well and the selectors felt his physical approach would also be handy against a physical Brumbies side.

Mauger said the Brumbies had proved how good a side they were when playing the Reds last weekend. They had kicked well, controlled territory and were very physical around the park through their forward pack and their set-piece.

He was confident first five-eighths Lima Sopoaga had recovered well from his injury suffered against the Chiefs and had trained effectively during the week.

"He's been very diligent around his rehab what it was in the end was just a couple of bones had jammed up and inflamed the capsule and a bit of fluid was flowing into it which he couldn't flex properly which caused pain when he put weight through his foot so that's recovered really quickly and he's trained fully this week," he said.