Squire confident Highlanders have first-five covered

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Lynn McConnell     07 Feb 2019     Getty Images

Sopoaga had driven the side around a lot for several seasons and helped take them to a Super Rugby title but before leaving Sopoaga had worked with local player Josh Ioane, Squire said.

"He showed him the ropes and he got a bit of a taste of what Super Rugby was about and he's an exciting player that's come through the Otago system and it's going to be an exciting year for him and also Bryn Gatland coming down from Auckland and they've got the old fellow that keeps coming back in Marty Banks, we can't get rid of him.

"So that 10 position has gone from losing Lima and being a loss to now being a hotly-contested position with three pretty decent players putting their hand up so it will be interesting to see how that goes," he said.

While not playing against the Waratahs due to his All Black leave requirements last week Squire said the Highlanders got a lot out of the game and an idea of where they were at in terms of their preparation.

"The guys are champing at the bit to get started. We've got one more pre-season game on Friday, against the Crusaders, to put their hand up for selection for that round one game [against the Chiefs in Hamilton].

"There's plenty of depth and competition amongst the whole group for positions," he said.

Squire won't be considered for the first round but would then be introduced over staggered minutes during the next three rounds. The need for player rest during the season would be just another challenge for coaches, he said.
"That's why the Highlanders spent a lot of time during the off season trying to create that depth," he said.

"Managing the players' loads is going to be quite important to get the best out of each player, each week."

Squire had his own share of injuries last season but said he was going into the 2019 campaign in good shape after resting well during his break and he was looking forward to getting stuck back into rugby.

There was no shortage of talent in the loose forward area, both at the Highlanders and around the country and that made the challenge to perform all the more exciting.

"You've got all those players putting their hand up so it brings out the best in each player so you can either rise to the occasion or go into your shell. Down at the Highlanders we've got plenty of competition throughout the whole squad but the loose forwards are where we've got the most depth probably in the competition so it's going to be quite an exciting year for us," he said.

Given how physical loose forwards had to be that depth was good for the Highlanders and a good type of problem for the coaches to have.

Squire was looking for consistency every time he gets to play. Remaining fit and healthy would be a goal while keeping to grow his game and do his best for the Highlanders was another.

"It's pretty special putting on that Highlanders jersey each week so if I can do that as much as possible it will be awesome," he said.