Super Rugby - Rebels v Highlanders
Joseph rues Highlanders complacency
July 13, 2013
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph, New Zealand Super Rugby squads announcement, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, November 10, 2010
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has endured a season he'd rather forget © Getty Images

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph believes complacency cost his side victory against the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park on Friday night.

The Highlanders looked headed to their fourth win of the season when they led the Rebels by 24 points at half-time of their final game of 2013, but the Kiwi strugglers produced a late capitulation to hand the Australian side a narrow 38-37 victory.

It was the second week in a row that the Highlanders have struggled to see out the entire 80 minutes. Last week they led the Hurricanes 32-13 at the break before holding on for a 49-44 victory. This time around they weren't so lucky and Joseph thinks his side have some mental issues they need to sort out during the off-season.

"I think a lot of that was complacency," Joseph said. "It was defensive lapses, but when you are up 30 points and you let a team back into the game, to me that is a lot more to do with the mental side of the match. That is where we were guilty. Complacency - that we had scored enough points and clearly in the 80th minute we hadn't as the Rebels scored an amazing try."

Joseph said the fact that the Rebels had a host of players participating in their last game for the club could not be used as an excuse for the fadeout.

"There was a lot of emotion surrounded with their players moving on, but so were a lot of our players," he said. "There is enough experience in the Highlanders team to understand what you can do in 40 minutes of rugby. We scored 30-odd points in that first half so it is just really disappointing for us."

Joseph dismissed speculation surrounding the future of his assistant coaches, indicating that there was no fabric to reports that his background staff would be moved on after the disappointing season.

Melbourne Rebels produce a stunning comeback to defeat the Highlanders (video available in Australia only)

The Highlanders will lose Colin Slade, Hosea Gear, Kade Poki and Jamie Mackintosh from their 2013 squad, while the future of All Blacks midfielder Ma'a Nonu remains in doubt after his mediocre year at the Dunedin-based club. But Joseph remains confident he can produce improved performances in charge of the Highlanders next season.

"A lot of the guys are going on to bigger things ... but you deal with that every year, not just this year," he said. "In some positions next year we are going to have some very young players. What we found with the Blues this year, it is quite exciting. It is that blend and that mix that you have got to get right and that is what we have got to work on in the next five or six months."

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