Hooker Ged Robinson believes the Highlanders have learned from their indecision against the Force and will bring a tougher attitude to their Super Rugby match against the Hurricanes in Dunedin on Friday.
Their resolve has been boosted by a couple of key acquisitions in the team named on Wednesday.
Ma’afu Fia gets his first start of the 2014 season in the front row and Brad Thorn returns to the No.4 jersey after being sidelined with a rib injury three weeks ago.
Phil Burleigh also receives his first start for the season while Patrick Osborne returns from a high ankle injury to start on the wing.
Robinson was one of the few players to enhance his reputation when he replaced Liam Coltman in the second half against the Force last Saturday at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
He said hard lessons had been absorbed since their 31-29 loss to the West Australians, when they couldn’t capitalise despite the Force being down to 13 players for the last eight minutes.
“We discussed it and we realise there was some wasted time. We’ve put in place a plan that there will be one player delegated to make decisions in the future.
“Some of us chipped in and we probably shouldn’t have. It’s about making the decisions, backing them and going for it. We’re a fairly new team this year and we’re learning from our mistakes,” Robinson said.
“Our attitude wasn’t as good as it had been.”
Robinson, 30, acknowledges atonement won’t be easy against the Hurricanes, their confidence rejuvenated by a 60-27 win over the Cheetahs last weekend.
“The Hurricanes have a lot of skills, individually and collectively, they’ve got their confidence back and they’ll be really tough. We both need to win so there will be a lot of intensity.”
Wellington-born Robinson played for the Lions from 2008-10 under coach Jamie Joseph, now at the helm of the Highlanders.
He returned to New Zealand last year from Australia where he was a foundation member and played 47 games for the Melbourne Rebels.
“I still want to pursue my dream of being an All Black,” Robinson said.
“If you don’t want to do that, I’m not sure whether you’re playing for the right reasons.”
Highlanders: Ben Smith (co-captain), Richard Buckman, Malakai Fekitoa, Phil Burleigh, Patrick Osborne, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Nasi Manu (co-captain), Shane Christie, Elliot Dixon, Joe Wheeler, Brad Thorn, Ma’afua Fia, Liam Coltman, Kane Hames. Reserves: Ged Robinson, Matias Diaz, Chris King, Jarrad Hoeata, TJ Ioane, Fumiaki Tanaka, Hayden Parker, Shaun Treeby.