Highlanders

NZ Super Rugby teams have it tougher: Joseph

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Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph says the the difference between the New Zealand and Australian Super Rugby conferences is like “war and school”.


Joseph says that he likes the new format which has home and away derbies and a three conference system but says the New Zealand teams have it tougher.


The Highlanders have just finished playing four consecutive derby matches against the Crusaders, Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes and have one remaining derby match.


After that difficult run the Highlanders are just outside the play off zone in seventh place but have a bye this weekend.


“We played four New Zealand teams in a row – that’s a big ask because they are very physical.”


“You watch the Waratahs play the Reds and it’s different rugby … it’s like school stuff while we are at war,” Joseph told The Dominion Post.


Joseph likes the conference system and says that the derbies have achieved their aim of adding interest to the tournament.


“I think it’s great, mate. It’s quite tribal, the Kiwi boys against the Kiwis … certainly the guys are enjoying the derby matches,” he said but added that the New Zealand coaches might change their minds with the high attrition rate of injuries


In the 13 New Zealand derbies which have been played so far nine of them have been decided by 10 points or less.


The Blues, Crusaders and Chiefs each have three New Zealand derbies to play in the last five Rounds of the regular Super rugby season, the Hurricanes two and the Highlanders one


There is a fear that the New Zealand teams could harm each other’s play off hopes.


Joseph said he hopes that next season the Highlanders could avoid the brutality of playing four New Zealand teams in a row.


“If we don’t have to do that again next year I think we will be better off,” Joseph said adding that his charges had struggled to get over a tight loss to the Blues and a deflating defeat to the Chiefs.

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