Highlanders wary of Cheetahs' threat

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Brown felt that would be a help in their approach to meeting the Highlanders.

The Cheetahs had a good hit out against the Crusaders last weekend and had put them under a lot of pressure at times.


The Cheetahs were out to a 24-0 lead against the Chiefs before they were run down in the final quarter.

"They'll take confidence out of that and they will definitely think they can do the same to us. We've got to be very good defensively and if we are we can create opportunities from it," he said.

The home side have made several changes to their side including returning Fred Zeilinga to first five-eighths while halfback Tian Meyer returns to play his 50th Super Rugby game.

They have also beefed up their pack with Henco Venter back at No.8 with Paul Schoeman moving to the blindside flank.

Highlanders coach Tony Brown acknowledged the threat the Cheetahs represented.

"They're a pretty attacking team, they gave it a bit of air and try and attack from everywhere so they're dangerous and defensively we have to be good and hopefully we can put them under enough pressure and create opportunities from that," he said.

Hooker Ash Dixon back from injury would come off the bench and Brown was pleased to have him available. He had been working hard and was excited to be having the chance to return on Friday (SA time).

Travelling to South Africa was always a challenge but they had prepared as well as they could and he was hopeful they could produce a performance similar to that in which they beat the Stormers in Dunedin while the goal was always to try and take their game to another level, he said.

There was concern for the side over Richard Buckman's availability for the game. He was coming back from an Achilles tendon injury and they would need to see how he had recovered from Wednesday's training on Thursday.

First five-eighths Marty Banks said playing while Lima Sopoaga was coming back from injury meant he had played more minutes than he had in three years and was feeling more comfortable in the role as a consequence. As long as the forwards were doing their job his role was a lot easier and that was the way it had been so far, he said.

While he was playing in a more conservative role for him, he was serving the team's interests and moving it around the field and he was happy with where he was at.

He confirmed the season would be his last at the Highlanders, and while that had also been the case last year, he would be leaving a week after the competition was finished for Treviso.