This is the fifth consecutive year the Highlanders have made the playoffs, finishing in 6th position at the end of the round robin stage. They are in the not unfamiliar position of being on the road having played only two playoff games at home since the inception of Super Rugby (1999 and 2015).
Mauger is excited by the opportunity.
“These are the opportunities the guys work hard all year for and there are no second chances,” he said. “It’s simply about putting our best performance on the field on Saturday.”
“The Waratahs are a quality side playing at home which presents an awesome challenge for our guys, but like I said, these are the games we love to play”
The Highlanders are coming off a thrilling 43-37 home victory over the Melbourne Rebels in what may have been club legend Lima Sopoaga’s final game at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Last weekend’s win snapped a two-game losing streak heading into the playoffs.
15. Ben Smith (CC), 14. Waisake Naholo, 13. Rob Thompson, 12. Teihorangi Walden, 11. Tevita Li, 10. Lima Sopoaga, 9. Aaron Smith, 8. Luke Whitelock, 7. James Lentjes, 6. Liam Squire, 5. Tom Franklin, 4. Jackson Hemopo, 3. Tyrel Lomax, 2. Liam Coltman, 1. Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Reserves: 16. Ash Dixon (CC), 17. Aki Seiuli, 18. Kalolo Tuiloma, 19. Shannon Frizell, 20. Elliot Dixon, 21. Kayne Hammington, 22. Josh Ioane, 23. Matt Faddes.
In other news:
RugbyPass has created a next generation rugby rating system, based on machine learning and shaped by game winning moments. The system (RPI) is a world first for its complexity and comprehensive embrace of northern and southern hemisphere players and teams. By using in-depth data analysis, RPI determines exactly what it takes to win, in real time. Explore the RPI now!