Super Rugby Trans-Tasman: Highlanders unfazed by Sydney dash to face Rebels

A disrupted travel schedule is of no concern to the Highlanders, as they prepare to head across to Sydney to face Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman on Sunday.

With Victoria now under seven-day lockdown, thanks to the re-emergence of COVID-19, the Highlanders v Rebels fixture has been thrown into chaos.

Originally scheduled to meet in Queenstown, the two teams will now face off in Sydney, with Leichhardt Oval the new venue.

The Rebels were forced to flee Melbourne for New South Wales on Wednesday to avoid the lockdown, while the Highlanders must head back across the ditch, after returning home from their 25-15 victory over Western Force in Perth last Friday.

But even after such a disrupted build-up, the southerners are confident their preparation hasn't been affected too much.

"It's going to be a funny one," says Highlanders coach Clarke Dermody. "What we have learned over the last year, with COVID and everything that's been changing, teams have had to adapt on the run.

"The team that adapts the quickest to that scenario is going to come out on top. It's just another challenge for us.

"Our actual preparation week hasn't changed too much, between Queenstown and Sydney. The only thing that's changed is the game location.

"I think we proved last week that we can do it away from home, it's the same mindset for us."

Dermody admits the Highlanders are thankful that the game can go ahead at all.

With spots in the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final likely to come down to bonus points and points differential, all Kiwi sides know that winning their last three games is the bare minimum.

For the Highlanders, who sit in fourth place after the first two rounds, having their clash against the Rebels cancelled and declared a draw wasn't an option.

"We know, in this competition, that you need to get as many points as you can out of games," Dermody adds.

"The alternative, which was two points each, wasn't really an option for us, knowing that if that happened, then the competition's pretty much over."

The Highlanders have played at Leichhardt Oval - spiritual home of the Wests Tigers NRL club - before, losing to the Waratahs 40-21 in the 2020 pre-season.

Join Newshub for live updates of the Highlanders v Rebels Super Rugby Trans-Tasman clash from 5pm Sunday.