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Blues an away hurdle for Highlanders

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

While some have been touting his All Blacks prospects, Lienert-Brown is having none of it, saying his mind is squarely with doing his job for the Highlanders, a team for whom he will reach 50 appearances when they meet the Blues at Eden Park on Friday.

And like any front rower he said he was looking forward to testing himself out against All Blacks tighthead prop Isa Tu'ungafasi in the game. But he pointed out that it wasn't a case of working on individual contests in a scrum, it was necessary to work as a pack to gain any advantage.

In the last game between the sides, their respective season opener, the scrum contest had been even.

"Up at Eden Park it's definitely going to be a tougher battle so we've got to bring our A game," he said.

The scrum had been a mixed bag in their last game, against the Brumbies at the weekend.

On their own ball they had scrummaged well but the Brumbies had a 'pretty destructive' scrum on their ball.

Canterbury-born, Lienert-Brown started his association with the Highlanders in 2015 when he ventured south from Christchurch three weeks into the season as injury cover and he had been with the side ever since.

However, he said he had never played a full 80 minutes in his 50 games and that was a reflection of the calibre of props who could come on as substitutes.

Former Blues wing Tevita Li, who has been with the Highlanders for two seasons, said he hadn't been worrying about the Blues' performances and had been concentrating on his efforts with the Highlanders and playing to his best for them.

"They've just been unlucky the last few weeks but they've got a lot of good players in their team, good coaching staff," he said.

Li said he was enjoying his time in Dunedin, where the traffic was hassle-free compared to Auckland. He could be at training from home in 10 minutes compared to 30-45 minutes in Auckland while the environment in Dunedin was very supportive.

"Everyone buys into the one team which is the Highlanders and the people around here are just amazing.

"I've been enjoying the season and getting game time and am grateful for the opportunity to be out their representing the Highlanders," he said.

Li was looking forward to the chance to play in South Africa, if selected after the Blues game, and was fully aware that the South African sides would be looking to dominate them up front. The Highlanders forwards would have to roll up their sleeves and give it a good crack.