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Highlanders on verge of record streak

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/05/2017

It's time for the Highlanders to start talking themselves up says coach Tony Brown as they eye a second club record in the space of two weeks. © Rob Jefferies/Getty Images It's time for the Highlanders to start talking themselves up says coach Tony Brown as they eye a second club record in the space of two weeks. It's time for the Highlanders to start talking themselves up says coach Tony Brown as they eye a second club record in the space of two weeks.

Victory over the Bulls in Pretoria on Sunday (NZT) will be the seventh on the trot for Browns' team, surpassing their all-time record winning streak.

Still fourth in the powerful New Zealand Conference, the Highlanders are looming into view as title threats.

Rather than play that down, Brown wants his rivals to know a second crown is on their agenda.

"Highlanders teams in the past have been afraid of making statements that they're going to make history," Brown said.

"We've talked about it (record streak) as a team. Our senior players want to own that and create history as a team.

"They don't just want to play good footy any more. They want to win and they want to win well and make the Highlanders team the best team to ever to play for the region."

Two weeks ago the Highlanders notched their biggest-ever winning margin when they clobbered the Stormers 57-14 in Dunedin.

Setting those sort of records has only served to inspire them, in a similar way to how the All Blacks have set themselves historic targets in recent seasons, Brown added.

"I think it's a sign of a quality team and quality leadership that keeps beating records and keeps wanting to beat more records.

"We all want to achieve our goals and everyone wants to be awesome."

It took three tries in the last eight minutes for the Highlanders to sneak past the Cheetahs 45-41 in Bloemfontein last week.

Brown expects the Bulls to be just as challenging, particularly after they were embarrassed 64-22 by the Crusaders in front of their home supporters last week.

An extra week spent adjusting to highvelt conditions will be of benefit to his players, Brown believed.

They must win without No.8 Luke Whitelock, who suffered a grade one calf tear at training and is sidelined for at least two weeks.

Tupou Sopoaga will join the squad as injury cover, having taken the same flight path as Jackson Hemopo, who is on the bench this weekend following the broken thumb suffered by All Blacks flanker Liam Squire.

Brown revealed they will still be without their Test fullback Ben Smith (ankle) when they face the Western Force in Perth next week. A home match against the Waratahs a week later is a realistic prospect.

First five-eighth Lima Sopoaga (hamstring) is on track to play against the Force, Brown said, ending more than two months on the sideline.

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