Highlanders up next for improved Lions

Warren Gatland (Gallo)
Warren Gatland (Gallo)

Cape Town - After the British and Irish Lions' impressive win over the Crusaders at the weekend, the Highlanders expect a tough encounter against the tourists in Dunedin on Tuesday.

Highlanders coach Scott McLeod, who is filling in for head coach Tony Brown while he is on duty with the Japan Test side, said the Lions win over the Crusaders had told them plenty ahead of the Highlanders game. 

The Crusaders had been strong in their attacking game previously but the Lions had completely shut them down across the park.

"They're a massive defensive threat and they're very accurate at the set-piece and their kicking game, and being able to apply pressure," McLeod told the All Blacks' official website.

While the Highlanders will be without their All Blacks in scrumhalf Aaron Smith and fullback Ben Smith, injuries earlier in the season had seen the side call on their full squad to cover and those players would step up again against the Lions, said McLeod .

Rejected All Blacks centre Malakai Fekitoa had been 'hugely disappointed' to miss out on selection in this year's squad. 

"He puts a huge amount into trying to get better and be the best so when you get dropped from a team you dearly love and are trying to be in it's a really emotional time for him," added McLeod.

"It's taken a couple of days, as it would, but what I think you'll see, hopefully, is the team to the forefront and the way he wants to play and perform for the boys." 

Highlanders captain Luke Whitelock said the Crusaders game against the Lions went up to another intensity level from what they had played before and their defence was outstanding in nullifying a lot of the Crusaders' attack.

"They put a lot of pressure on them and that was reflected on the scoreboard," he said.

Teams

Lions

15 Jared Payne; 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Tommy Seymour; 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb; 8 CJ Stander, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 James Haskell; 5 Iain Henderson, 4 Courtney Lawes; 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Rory Best, 1 Joe Marler

Substitutes: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Elliot Daly

Highlanders

15 Richard Buckman, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Luke Whitelock (captain), 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Jackson Hemopo, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.

Substitutes: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siosiua Halanukonuka, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 James Lentjes, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Patrick Osborne

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