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Super Rugby Review: Final

Super Rugby Review: Final

The Highlanders claimed their first ever Super Rugby title and head coach Jamie Joseph could not hide his delight at finally getting over the winning line.

The Highlanders claimed their first ever Super Rugby title and head coach Jamie Joseph could not hide his delight at finally getting over the winning line.

Joseph, who played for the All Blacks during his career, led the Highlanders to a 21-14 win over fellow Kiwi franchise the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.

For a Highlanders side that two years ago finished second bottom of the standings, this was a remarkable transformation.

And with only three All Blacks in their entire squad, compared to a star-studded Hurricanes side, it was a superb victory that will live long in the memory.

"In my rugby career we just about did a lot of things but we didn't quite do it," he mused.

"We [Otago] just about won a Ranfurly Shield against Canterbury in '94, we just about won the NPC and lost it with a penalty try [against Auckland in 1995], we just about won the World Cup but lost that as well.

"Maybe I am a better coach.” 

For fans of the British & Irish Lions, there were plenty of potential opponents in the 2017 tour on show but those do not include the likes of Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu who were playing their final games for the Canes before coming to Europe.

And All Blacks scrum-half TJ Perenara admitted he and his teammates were gutted to not send off their departing stars with a maiden Super Rugby crown.

"It's probably the boys who are staying who are most disappointed we couldn't give them what they deserved," the 23-year-old halfback said.

"You have the most capped forward of all time (Jeremy Thrush) and the two most capped Hurricanes of all time (Smith and Nonu) in that mix. The contribution they've given the club is immense and we wanted to send them off the right way. They deserved the win.

"We worked hard for each other every single day, we tried to better ourselves every single day and I saw these boys grind every day since November. We worked bloody hard."

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