Fisher backs Tahs to beat Highlanders


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The Waratahs forwards have found an unlikely supporter in Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher who is predicting that they should easily get the better of a beefed-up Highlanders pack on Saturday.

“I think they’ll be fine,” Fisher said of the ‘Tahs challenge against a new-look Highlanders pack.

“I don’t think we had any real issues with them (on Saturday), so I don’t expect the Waratahs having any scrum problem,” Fisher told RugbyHeaven.

Fisher’s words might be a boost for NSW, but the Brumbies coach could also benefit if the Highlanders feel stung by his comments and come out firing against the Waratahs at Carisbrook.

If the Highlanders give the Waratahs a tough match at “House of Pain” it could have the effect of softening up the Tahs for round four when the Waratahs and Brumbies meet.

The Waratahs have done their homework on the Highlanders pack, and have noted the size and strength of their new front row.

The All Blacks trio of tight-head prop Carl Hayman, hooker Anton Oliver and loose-head Clarke Dermody have gone but in their place is a new and relatively inexperienced but heavyweight 367-kilogram trio of Clint Newland (130kg), Jason MacDonald (108kg) and Jamie Mackintosh (129kg).

In comparison NSW’s Al Baxter (116kg), Adam Freier (101kg) and Matt Dunning (119kg) will concede 31kg but they do have plenty of Super 14 and Test experience.

As reported on Super14.com earlier today, Freier is set to equal former Wallabies captain Phil Kearns’s record mark of 73 state caps for a NSW hooker and he believes the Waratahs scrum will show how nous can overcome brawn.

“We have looked at their scrum a hell of a lot,” Freier said yesterday before a heated training session that saw Dunning and second-rower Dan Vickerman almost come to blows and Junior Waratahs second-rower Adam Burns sidelined to cool off.

“All Otago packs are very good. I would like to say that we do have a better scrum. But I would like to go into the game with the attitude that we have to do everything right, and that we have to be the most determined and technically sound scrum in the competition.”

The odds are certainly in the Sydney teams favour because in 12 years of Super rugby the Waratahs have lost only once to the Highlanders at Carisbrook – in 2001 (39-20) – and twice in Sydney.

The Highlanders however will be up for it this year because they need a win after having lost both of their matches this year and this is their first home fixture. “They are a team that isn’t getting much love,” Freier said. “They are the teams you don’t want to play.”

Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie believes brains can beat brute strength. “You have to play with nous as well (as brawn). You have to make sure you are smarter about how you play these games,” he said.




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