Highlanders not taking Blues lightly

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Monday, April 16, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

In the opening game of the campaign between the two sides, the Blues had been capable of winning quite comfortably so it was a case of the Highlanders being forewarned and forearmed as they prepared for Eden Park.

"They're a good side, they've got some outstanding players. Some of the results haven't necessarily gone their way but it doesn't make them an easy proposition at all," he said.

"They've got threats across the park, they've got good structure, [Stephen] Perofeta has come back and is playing really well for them so they're a challenge and they're a team on their home patch you have to prepare very well and diligently for. We know it's going to be a hell of a task for us."

The Highlanders had shown at the weekend against the Brumbies that when they were managing their territory correctly and getting their platform right they took pressure off themselves.

It was a case of the old adage that if you played in the right part of the field you would probably get a return and teams in New Zealand were ambitious and liked to counterattack.

The Highlanders liked to play similarly but sometimes a leavening of pragmatism was also required.

"If we can play in the right parts of the field and put the pressure on them then that is going to feed us an opportunity to play our game," he said.

Delaney didn't go along with Chiefs coach Colin Cooper's call for fewer local derbies among New Zealand sides because of the injury toll they were causing.

Delaney said he enjoyed the derbies and being a 'rugby tragic' he looked back at the great days of National Provincial Championship rugby in the amateur era and felt they equated to the derby games of the modern era.

"They're great contests and everyone waits with bated breath, and I think what we've done now is we've given the public a taste of what it's like and I'm pretty confident everyone wants more of the same. I'm enjoying the competition for what it is right now," he said.

The interest in the games was a reflection of the tribal nature of the New Zealand game.

"It's been a big reason to get people out and I think we're getting there now, certainly in those big derby games there is always big crowds and particularly here [Dunedin], they're pretty vocal," he said.