Taking on the Reds in the Suncorp Stadium hothouse in Brisbane is the latest challenge for the well-travelled Highlanders in Super Rugby Pacific on Friday.
Coming off their win over the Fijian Drua, coach Tony Brown said the side was handling the travel and short turnarounds with a reduced training load.
They were preparing for a tough challenge against the highly-ranked Reds.
"They play with the right attitude, they're physical, they compete at the breakdown. I feel as though they play like Brad Thorn [Reds coach], the way that he attacked his rugby so they're always going to be a tough team to beat," he said.
It's been a case of 'you win some, you lose some' for the Highlanders.
Lock Josh Dickson's had his three-week suspension trimmed a week after he did a course of remedial work on his tackling. That allowed him to play against the Reds.
Dickson had taken the option provided by World Rugby that offers a coaching intervention for first offenders in tackling dismissals. Those who take it can have the final week of their suspension removed.
That would be handy for the Highlanders' lineout, an area where they are keen to attack Reds inaccuracies.
Your Highlanders to take on @Reds_Rugby this Friday night for RD12 of DHL Super Rugby Pacific— Highlanders (@Highlanders) May 3, 2022
Lentjes & Smith will co-captain the side
Josh Dickson returns #SuperRugbyPacific pic.twitter.com/WzJ8KygX9K
"It's good having him back. He's been playing good rugby for us, leads our lineout. Having him and Bryn [Evans] there on Friday night is hopefully going to put their lineout under pressure and hopefully secure a lot of quality ball for us," he said.
The pectoral injury suffered by loose forward Gareth Evans has ended his Super Rugby season and was a blow to the side.
Brown said Evans had been in good form.
"He's been a little bit of a fix-it man around the loose forwards. He's been one of our key players up until now," he said.
An unchanged backline was reward for recent efforts, and the consistency could help them against the Reds, Brown said.
There were signs of growing confidence among the combinations in the backline, and it was a case of helping them get better to achieve the required level of performance.
Flanker James Lentjes will co-captain the side with halfback Aaron Smith, and that was a result of the leadership success he had when having sole charge of the side.
Round 12 is almost here and things are heating up! Get the lowdown on the teams, stats and key stories in our official round programme.— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) May 4, 2022