Super Rugby Pacific: Highlanders coach emphasises self-belief as side looks to end historic slump against Kiwi rivals

Highlanders coach Clarke Dermody is challenging his team to believe in themselves more, as the side look to end their historic slump against fellow Kiwi Super Rugby Pacific teams. 

The Highlanders haven't beaten a New Zealand Super Rugby team since defeating the Blues 35-29 in April 2021, losing each of their last 17 Kiwi derbies including their first in 2024 against the Blues.  

Having been leading for most of the opening half against Aucklander, Dermody isn't concerned with his side's ability, but rather their self-belief when it comes to performing in the big moments.  

"What we talk about is, don't be surprised to be in these games," he explained.   

"We were right in the Blues game, and we've learned from that hopefully. We pushed a good Brumbies team. The message to the boys is don't be surprised, like we're a good rugby team so hopefully the belief is growing.

"We need to make sure we take the moments in the game that really count." 

The Highlanders' next chance to break their unpleasant streak is in their upcoming game against the heavily favoured Chiefs in Hamilton.  

Despite acknowledging it would be a difficult task to overcome the preseason title favourites on their home turf, Dermody has faith his team can produce the upset - if they can step up in the key moments.   

"They're a pretty well-balanced team, they've got very good players across the park," said Dermody. "A very solid forward pack that feeds their backline."  

"But I think we're due, like I said, we are building belief in the team that we're good enough." 

"I think we put ourselves in positions every game this year to win, we haven't won every game and obviously that's the challenge." 

Join Newshub at 4:35pm Saturday for live updates of the Highlanders v Chiefs Super Rugby Pacific clash.