Highlanders make good use of bye

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Lynn McConnell     05 Mar 2018     Getty Images

That included taking a careful look at the Stormers' effort against the Crusaders on Saturday in order to know what they can expect on Friday night in Dunedin.

So far as loose forward Elliott Dixon was concerned it wasn't so much of a problem to have a bye in the second week.

He said the lesson from last year, first and foremost, was to get a good start. With the first four games against the other New Zealand teams he said he would take the Highlanders' situation any day of the week.

The bye meant meant there was a chance to regroup and build on some of the things they did wrong in the Blues game and come back to a full game against the Stormers.

It had been a normal training week ahead of the bye and the players had worked hard and then took time to relax over the weekend.

There had been obvious interest in the Crusaders-Stormers game, especially what sorts of things worked against the Stormers and what didn't.

"In the second half I thought they [the Stormers] came out with real direct play with their forwards, and with momentum, and once they start to get gainline they're a real scary team. We saw with the Crusaders it is quite hard to stop big boys like that if they're coming phase after phase after phase.

"And they've got some quite good razzle out in the backs and getting it to the width and having a go," he said.

While there would be a change in focus from the way they approached New Zealand teams it had always been that way.

The Stormers were big up front but they also liked to throw the ball around and they were going to have guaranteed dry conditions at Forsyth Barr Stadium and they were going to be big and set-piece orientated, he said.

"If we let them play from set-piece to set-piece it's going to be a long night in the office but with us we want to see if they can run around with us and if we can run them around a bit faster it will be good for us," he said.