'We only had one sh***er': Ash Dixon leaves little to imagination while comparing Blues to Highlanders
Chasing their first championship crown since their maiden title six years ago, the Highlanders came up short in an enthralling 23-15 defeat at Eden Park in Auckland.
With their backs against the wall for large chunks of the game, the Dunedin-based side did well to concede just two tries while only possessing 38 percent of the ball and 33 percent of the territory.
The result, and the way in which it came to be, accurately reflected the pre-match narrative about how the Blues headed into the match as favourites to walk away with the silverware.
That they did, and Dixon attributed that, in part, to the extensive depth evident throughout the Blues squad, something of which the Highlanders couldn’t match due to their restrictive budget and high injury toll.
“Our resources and our budget is a lot different to other teams,” Dixon said shortly ofter the match as he pinpointed the Auckland franchise’s forward pack as a particular strength of theirs.
“We had 13 guys out, one All Black [Aaron Smith] out there and one Japanese player [Kazuki Himeno] against 10 All Blacks.
“To become an All Black, it ain’t easy. You’re the pinnacle of New Zealand rugby, and those boys can roll three All Black props out there with Patty Tups [Patrick Tuipulotu], who’s a big man, and Hoskins [Sotutu] and Akira [Ioane], that’s a quality side.
“Our team had no All Blacks in that pack and we had to square up against these boys who were running heavy balls.”
While the Blues maintained every Super Rugby team in New Zealand receive the same amount of money from New Zealand Rugby, Dixon joked about how his side had been impacted by their relatively modest resources at their Dunedin headquarters.
“They’ve got – I touched on it before – pretty good resources with their gym and I’ve heard they’ve got a cafe and a cook and about five showers and saunas and spas,” he said.
“They’ve got that in there. We’ve got two showers and one of them wasn’t working and then someone blocked the sh***er this week so we only had one sh***er.
“That’s what I’m saying. We’re used to it. We just suck it up and get on with it. That’s the attitude. We’re just like, ‘Righteo boys, let’s get on with it, it happened’.”
Fresh after his side’s Super Rugby Trans-Tasman title-winning success, Blues head coach Leon MacDonald already has an eye on next year’s campaign with incoming NRL star Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. #Blues #SuperRugby https://t.co/icI6F3GcJZ
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The identity of the perpetrator remains unknown, although Dixon had to fight off allegations of blocking the toilet after he broke the news to his teammates.
“No, I don’t know [who it was], to be honest, but everyone was pointing to me because I put a video on the chat and everyone thought it was me. I got a bit of a ribbing for it, but it definitely wasn’t me, mate.”
On a more serious note, Dixon expressed pride in his side’s effort to even make the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final after being written off by many following an underwhelming Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign.
“I think there’s a lot of quality in this team and this region,” the 32-year-old hooker, who celebrated his 100th appearance for the Highlanders during the final, said of his side.
“They [the Blues] are a powerhouse of New Zealand rugby, and to play here at Eden Park, it is the home of New Zealand rugby, it’s a fortress here and we stuck in there, so I’m really stoked, man.”
New Zealand’s depth in the loose forwards continues to amaze – despite a few potentially crucial injuries. Will Shannon Frizell’s injury late in the #SuperRugby season impact the make-up of tonight’s #AllBlacks squad?https://t.co/SMTm2QgQyx
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With the final bringing the Super Rugby season to an end, Dixon is confident the Highlanders are on the right path to continuing their success through to next year.
Whether the Maori All Blacks captain is involved in next year’s campaign is unclear, but he suggested the Highlanders have laid the groundwork to pick up from where they left off leading into 2022.
“For me, if we can keep working on our game, sort out some injuries that we had, we’re right in the money,” Dixon said.
“Our culture’s great. Our team’s great. We’re just going to get better and better, so that’s the challenge for us, to keep looking forward, looking ahead with our boys.
“We obviously don’t get the cream of the crop, but the guys we do get, some of them have a chip on their shoulder and want to prove something to other players, so that’s how we get on with it.”
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