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Fekitoa move not on Highlanders' minds

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Lynn McConnell     22 Jul 2017     Getty Images

Highlanders co-captain and reserve hooker Ash Dixon said news of Fekitoa's departure for Toulon was great for him. Fekitoa would leave a legacy with the Highlanders and he was proud of everything he had done for the side, he said.

In the meantime he believed Fekitoa was focused on this weekend's game to show the Highlanders and the rest of New Zealand what he could do.

"He will be a huge loss, he has had a massive impact on this club. He's a massive asset for the team and the club so it is a sad loss but we just wish him all the best on his travels," he said.

First five-eighths, and fellow All Black, Lima Sopoaga said as a great mate of Fekitoa he was sad to be losing a friend in the side.

"But I couldn't be happier for him," he said.

He had to make the decision that was best for him and would be sorely missed by the Highlanders.

"He came here in 2014 and absolutely lit it up and became an All Black. I think he's played 25 Tests for this country so it's been pretty special seeing him grow not only as a football player but as a person," he said.

"He turned up here when we had come off a pretty abysmal year in 2013 and in 2014 we made the play-offs and he became an All Black that year. I think he's a massive part of this family and he always will be," he said.

Dixon, who had just signed for another two years, said he had to think long and hard about his options but his young family enjoyed it in Dunedin and he didn't want to take them away from friends and family.

It was a tough decision and at the start of the season it looked like things could go pear-shaped for him but it had turned out all right and he was looking forward to the future.

Sopoaga said as far as the quarter final was concerned he was sure the Crusaders would have a steely resolve after their loss last weekend and it was up to the Highlanders to match that.

Sopoaga said the side were looking forward to the game. With so much bad weather around it was likely the team that adapted quickest to the conditions would win.

Dixon said being a one-off game they had to come prepared and put everything on the line and see how it worked out against the best team in the competition.
"We've had a really enjoyable week and have prepared as well as we can so we'll see how we go tomorrow," he said.

"They've proven this year what a team they can be and they've taken a lot of teams to shreds. For us it's just what we can do and what we want to get out of this game. Obviously it's a one-off game and there's a lot on the line so we'll give it everything we've got and see how it goes," he said.