Continuing to improve their game, the Highlanders feel they will produce more consistent winning results in the second half of Super Rugby Pacific.

They play the Brumbies on Sunday as part of the historic Super Round in Melbourne, and captain James Lentjes said the Highlanders were getting better.

"That's the positive we need to take and, if we can keep bettering it, we will definitely swing those results," he said.

"We do a lot of good stuff, and then we miss the odd tackle that puts us under pressure, or we give away a silly penalty that puts us under pressure. But a lot of teams do that. We're just not getting the rub of the green at the moment.

"We've got to eliminate that from our game and then we can build pressure for longer, because we can score points, we can score good tries like we showed at the weekend," he said.

Lentjes said the Australian group had produced similar results to last year with the Brumbies, who they play on Sunday, and the Reds being good sides.

"I think, if anything, last year they put us on notice and they'll be after us," he said.

The Brumbies pack had big men. They were bigger than the Highlanders, and they played a direct, set-piece, oriented game. They had success with that this year and, in the past, against the Highlanders.



The Highlanders have rung the changes for the game.

Aaron Smith is rested with Folau Fakatava starting and Kayne Hammington on the bench.

Marty Banks will start again at first five-eighths with Mitch Hunt at fullback.

Assistant coach Riki Flutey said: "We know the more game time Folau gets, the better he gets, so we are giving him that opportunity.

"Marty Banks can control a game really well and has an amazing kicking game.

"The combination between the two of them [Banks and Hunt] worked well [against the Hurricanes]," he said.

Lock Josh Dickson's three-week suspension means Sam Caird will debut at lock.

"He has had a good week in terms of his prep [preparation] and understanding his roles and responsibilities going out to take on the Brumbies.

"He has been really patient over the past few months, so he is another one who we are really excited to see get out on the field," he said.

Lentjes said he expected Caird to step up with his opportunity. It helped that he had played in Australia. He was a big man, and knew what lay ahead.