They’re the reigning Super Rugby champions but Highlanders lock Joe Wheeler says his side could still be underestimated in 2016.
While the 2015 title will give the Highlanders a target on their back as the 2016 season gets underway, Wheeler said a relative lack of internationals meant they would still go under the radar.
“I think still we'll be underestimated by a lot of sides,” he said.
“We don’t have the All Blacks that a lot of teams do. We’ve got a few more now but certainly our forward pack there’s no All Blacks in that.
“I think we’re not treating it as if we’re the hunted, we’re just trying to be the best we can be and control what we can control and hopefully that’s winning football games.”
Wheeler said the side would be focusing on its own draw heading into the expanded Super Rugby competition, comparing the season to a marathon.
“Hopefully we can do it all again but we just have that week by week focus and we want to take each game as it comes,” he said.
“I know it’s a cliché but that's literally how it is.
"It’s (the competition) certainly a marathon in terms of you need to start well and you also need to continue momentum through.
“There’s a lot of luck involved with injuries and squad management and hopefully we can nail that and have another cracker year.”
Wheeler, who made headlines with his musical tribute to injured teammate Richard Buckman found himself slightly out of his comfort zone at Tuesday’s Super Rugby launch, testing out his dance moves to kick off the new Rugby year.
“I probably would have preferred singing over dancing but it’s a lot of fun,” he said.