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Highlanders look to keep pressure on Sunwolves

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Lynn McConnell     20 Apr 2017     Getty Images

Coach Tony Brown said the side were aware of the sting the Sunwolves had in their tail, especially after their win over the Bulls, and his players would be aware of that.

Brown said any confidence the side took into games was based on how they had prepared during the week from coming together on Monday through to the game at the weekend.

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"We've had a good couple of days so far and we'll finish off our preparation and then we've got to go out and perform, and that's what we're after as a team. The score doesn't really matter for us," he said.

There had been no temptation to pick a less experienced side against the Sunwolves.

"No game is easy in this comp," he said, adding that they always chose the best team available.

It was good to have All Blacks wing Waisake Naholo back and the key to making the most of his presence would be getting him enough ball to dominate in his own way.

"Hopefully, if we get enough ball, and good ball, we can score some tries but there's a lot of hard work to do before you can score those tries so there's lots of things we need to do to perform well," he said.

They had taken a lesson from the way the Crusaders had been able to keep the Sunwolves under pressure, and by doing that opportunities came so that would be how the Highlanders approached it, while also recognising they needed to be physically strong as well.

With Malakai Fekitoa moving into second five-eighths, Matt Faddes would start at centre, a position he had performed well in previous seasons and his first start there this season would be a good opportunity for him.

The move had been made as a result of an Achilles strain Richard Buckman had suffered and he was only expected to be out for this weekend.

Brown was pleased to have many of his injured players starting to surface at training again and with some of them included in the side at the weekend he was hopeful that would be reflected in the performance the side produced.

It would be another week before a clearer statement could be made on flanker Shane Christie who is going through the necessary protocols after concussion. Brown said a comment should be available next week.

Ash Dixon was likely to play club rugby this weekend on his return while Dan Pryor was a week or two from playing club rugby.