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Highlanders face depth test for Australia

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Super Rugby champions the Highlanders face a test of their depth ahead of their two match tour of Australia that includes matches against the Waratahs and Rebels.

The Highlanders lost their opening match but have bounced back and are now on a two match winning streak.

Their most recent victory was over the previously unbeaten Lions but that may have come at a cost as a number of players were injured in the clash.

First choice lock Joe Wheeler and loose forward Dan Pryor both had to leave the field for head checks while winger Patrick Osborne sustained a hip injury.

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph exptects to have a clearer idea on the injuries on Monday and on the positive side midfielder Tei Walden (concussion) and No 8 Liam Squire (illness) are both expected to be available for the Australian tour.

“We know it’s a pretty sensitive topic around concussion so no risks will be taken,” Joseph told Stuff in relation to Wheeler and Prior.

Joseph was clearly pleased with the Highlanders second half try blitz but was concerned by the way the Highlanders allowed the Lions to score a late try which cost them the bonus point.

The coach was still pleased though with the overall result and in particular the brace of tries by Matt Faddes who was filling in for Waisake Naholo who has a leg injury.

“I thought he went well. He’s still finding his way a little bit but he had some wonderful touches in the game and he showed his class when it counted. ”

“He’ll get better with more experience,” said Joseph of the three-game rookie.

Joseph said he was also pleased with Super Rugby debutant Rob Thompson who started at second five-eighth and went on to deliver what Joseph described as a “solid” outing.

The 24-year-old recruit Thompson from Canterbury said he was thriving in his new environment.

“Coming down south and being given an opportunity is great,” he said, crediting centre Fekitoa for setting the standard for midfielders on and off the field.

“To see his workrate at training is quite contagious,” he said.

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