Joseph puts boot into Highlanders' tactics
Expect more kicking from the Highlanders next season.
The southern franchise will be missing the attacking talents of Hosea Gear, Tamati Ellison and Kade Poki, but even if those players were available, head coach Jamie Joseph has been paying attention to what wins games in Super Rugby.
"We've seen the Chiefs and Brumbies, who were the two most successful teams in this year's competition, kick the ball a hell of a lot and play rugby in the right parts of the field. We've been guilty of getting the balance wrong. We have to address that and we've started doing that already," Joseph said.
"It's a simple game. If the forwards get dominated, it's bloody hard to play without the ball, and it's hard to score tries from your own line."
Joseph will be hoping at least one of his first-fives - the injury-prone Lima Sopoaga, newcomer Willie Ripia and Hayden Parker - can stay healthy long enough to run the sort of game plan he wants to implement.
The former All Black flanker, who will run the forwards and help new assistant coach Tony Brown with the attack, believes his teams have coped with enough injuries to last three seasons.
He has named a 32-strong squad of fulltime players and five wider training squad players, with Ben Smith and Nasi Manu confirmed as co-captains.
The unassuming Smith has not previously stood out as captaincy material, while Manu has found it hard to stay on the paddock due to injury, but Joseph is confident he's got the right people in place.
"All the qualities we needed for leadership in the team, those two guys oozed them. The second thing is they were relatively inexperienced captains ... the thought of sharing the load over a long campaign of over six months, both of them got comfort from the thought of sharing it with each other."
Joseph said former captain Jamie Mackintosh, and to a lesser extent Andrew Hore, had been worn down by the captaincy and their form suffered as a result.
"I think co-captains for two experienced footballers, but two inexperienced captains, is probably the best way to go. The way we want to share the leadership amongst ourselves allows these guys to do what they want to do, so I'm quite excited about it."
The Chiefs have had Liam Messam and Craig Clarke as co-captains during their two Super Rugby title wins.
Joseph said Brad Thorn, who filled in as captain this season, felt he was better suited in the advisory role he had provided with the Crusaders and Broncos.
Southland will be represented in the Highlanders by John Hardie, Josh Bekhuis and Elliot Dixon next season.
Cardiff Vaega will be a Hurricane.
Willis Halaholo might have been unlucky to have missed out on a wider training squad gig anywhere but Rugby Southland are hoping to retain him and put him through their sevens programme.
The Blues have cut Marty McKenzie loose halfway through his two-year contract and he has signed on with the New Zealand sevens programme.
Meanwhile, New Zealand sevens skills coach Damian Karauna will visit Southland this weekend.
Karauna will be visiting Southland to work with Southland's men's and women's coaches and players and will be the official guest at the Southland secondary school Condor 7s Tournament Day on Saturday at the Les George Oval.
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