Mauger confident Highlanders ready for Brumbies

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Two changes to the team reflect the more physical game expected in Australia with Shannon Frizell named on the blindside flank, having impressed when coming on as a substitute last week, while Patelesio Tomkinson has been named on the wing.

 

Lock Paripari Parkinson is out injured and Jesse Parete has been named to start in his place.

 

Mauger knows the Brumbies are on a 10-game winning streak at home but has confidence his side have learned from their first game.

 

"I think we were just a bit over eager at times last week, a couple of dropped balls with the line openm" he said.

 

"So we created opportunities and that's probably just a reflection of a young team, really keen, a little bit rusty so with another week of training under our belt and taking the lessons out of the Sharks game I think we'll be in a better space Saturday night," he said.

 

"They are a pretty physical side and tough to play at home and they are pretty successful at home as well.

 

"For us it is about understanding them and understanding their game. Taking away their strengths and we're going to have to be disciplined with our own plans and make sure we play in the right part of the field.

 

"They're a pretty physical side and that's one area we weren't quite good enough against the Sharks last week so we need to be more physical around our carry and breakdown and make sure we secure our own ball.

With that in mind Frizell has been given a start on the blindside of the scrum. He and Parete had added some impact when they came off the bench last week, he said.

 

If teams wanted to do well in the competition they had to pick off some games on the road and Canberra represented a chance to shake off the Sharks loss and go for the win, he said.

 

Sio Tomkinson had been named on the wing for the side and with his hard-nosed approach he was ideally equipped for the type of game the Highlanders were expecting.

 

Irish prop Conan O'Donnell had been called into the side due to injury suffered by Jeff Thwaites. He had been working with the Crusaders, and played for the Sunwolves last year, and was available to cover with the Highlanders.

 

"He's very strong, low, he's not the tallest guy so he's pretty good at getting underneath his man at scrum time. He's good a good work rate around the field," he said.

 

Mauger was pleased with the way the scrum stood up against the Sharks and the forwards had built on the lead provided by hooker Siate Tokolahi and had confidence going into what was expected to be another tough forward battle this week.

 

The Highlanders always face one of the more rigorous travel schedules involving three different flights, across 12 hours, to get to Canberra but he was confident the side could cope.

 

"There is no other way to get there. For us we just make sure we have got good travel plans and the trainers have made sure the boys are eating well and hydrating. Stretching in between flights. It's always a good challenge but we'll get that right," he said.