Highlanders look to scrap slow start

The Highlanders must get out of the blocks faster after last week’s slow start if they want to break a 10-year Super Rugby losing streak against Queensland in Brisbane on Saturday.

Fresh from a 32-20 win over the Force, the defending champions play a winless Reds side sitting last in the Australian conference with four points.

Highlanders assistant coach Scott McLeod admits the Otago-based side know there’s plenty of room for improvement, despite their comfortable winning margin in Dunedin last weekend.

They allowed the Force to dictate terms for the first quarter, and the Australians raced to a 14-0 lead within 10 minutes.

The Highlanders eventually rediscovered their composure, overcame a resilient Force side and now hold a five win-one loss record.

McLeod said there were some issues at the start of the match that came from the preparation.

“We feel as though we didn’t have our best training week last week, both the staff and the players, so we’ve rectified that this week,” he said.

The Highlanders will also be battling history as they travel to Brisbane to try and secure a rare away win over the Reds.

The Queenslanders have not lost to the Highlanders at Suncorp Stadium since 2005, when the visitors won 23-16.

Prop Brendon Edmonds is out for the season, but some key players were set to return in the coming weeks.

Five-eighth Lima Sopoaga is back training after missing the Force match with a groin strain, while winger Waisake Naholo resumed running after fracturing his leg in the first match of the season.

In other good news for the Highlanders, No.8 Liam Squire has extended his initial one-year contract for another season.

He made the move from the Chiefs to the Highlanders in 2016, and has already proved his worth in defence with his hard-hitting tackles.

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