Watch: Steve Hansen raves over Liam Squire's comeback – 'He's a naturally fit guy'

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has spoken of his delight at seeing the return of Liam Squire, as the Highlanders star made his comeback from a broken thumb in Brisbane last night.

Having missed a large chunk of the current season, Squire, 27, returned to the field as a first half substitute for the Highlanders, as they ground out a gutsy 18-15 win over the Reds.

Squire himself was in excellent form, scoring a try as well as coming up with a number of crucial carries for his side.

Speaking to media today, Hansen spoke highly of Squire's return, with the flanker expected to be the All Blacks' first-choice in the number six jersey in next month's Test series with France.

"He was Liam Squire wasn't he," Hansen said.

"Pretty physical. (He) probably went for a bit longer than he wanted to, with the injury, but he's come through it.

"He's a naturally fit guy, and the game time would have been superb for him. It's great."

Squire returned from a broken thumb in the Highlanders' 18-15 win over the Reds. Source: 1 NEWS


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'We all know where the nipples are' – Steve Hansen pleased with World Rugby's new tackle laws

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is backing World Rugby's trial of new tackle laws, in a bid to reduce the number of concussions currently seen in the game.

After studies found that 76 per cent of rugby's head injuries come from tackles, World Rugby is implementing a trial policy during upcoming under-20s tournaments where a "below the nipple line" approach is being enforced, hoping to take players' heads out of the equation.

Speaking to media today, Hansen praised the approach, saying that it was necessary for player welfare in the long run.

"I think it's good," he said.

"I think it's better than below the shoulder, because there's quite a lot of games where you make the tackle and it doesn't look to be a bad tackle, but yet it's being penalised.

"The clearer and more simpler you make it - we all know where the nipples are - so hit below that and you're going to be okay."

The below the nipple line tackles will hopefully help avoid concussions. Source: 1 NEWS


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Highlanders hold on for gutsy come-from-behind win over Reds at Suncorp Stadium

Relive all of the action from the Highlanders's hard earned 18-15 win over the Reds at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.

FULLTIME: Highlanders 18 Reds 15

The Reds give away a penalty for taking out a player off the ball as the siren goes in the background! Sopoaga boots the ball into touch and that'll be the win!

78 mins: Highlanders 18 Reds 15

Penalty! The Highlanders run the ball again, but Ready turns it over! Both sides trade kicks before Naholo has a run. The Highlanders are forced into touch though, Reds lineout. Again the Highlanders win th lineout against the throw, Hunt tries to break through but is tackled. Sopoaga goes wide to McKay but he's tackled. Walden tries to step through, Squire looks for Naholo but the Reds knock it on. The red goes back for a high shot on Walden and Sopoaga points to the posts.

He lines up the kick from in front, and he's got it! The Highlanders take the lead with just minutes to go!

74 mins: Highlanders 15 Reds 15

The Reds can't get out of their own half as the Highlanders win the ball back. Sopoaga kicks over the top but Perese claims it! He then slips right through the Highlanders' defence! McKay does well as the last man to make the tackle, before Hunt forces the ball out of play. The Highlanders have a lineout on halfway.

72 mins: Highlanders 15 Reds 15

The Reds clear the ball to McKay, who finds Naholo. The winger darts down the sideline before getting the ball to Sopoaga outside him. Sopoaga tries a pass back inside but it goes to no one as the reds claim the ball back. They clear the ball as far as Tevita Li as the Highlanders counter!

Walden makes a burst before finding Squire outside him, who bumps off yet another defender, but can't hold onto the ball! Reds with another 5m scrum.

69 mins: Highlanders 15 Reds 15

The Highlanders really looking dangerous now as Smith and Sopoaga show their class. Squire bumps off the first defender as the Highlanders work their way to the 5m line. JP Smith gives away a penalty for taking Aaron Smith out off the ball. The Highlanders opt for the lineout instead of the three points!

Dixon throws, and the Reds look to have stolen it! Tuiloma claims the loose ball and looks to have scored, but the ball went forward off Dickson. The Reds have a 5m scrum.

65 mins: Highlanders 15 Reds 15

Highlanders lineout. Dixon throws, Dickson claims. Sopoaga puts a kick over the top and Stewart claims, nearly kicking Tevita Li in the process! Sorovi clears for the Reds and the Highlanders start again. Hemopo charges at the defence, the ball goes wide to Li who does well to beat the first defender before going down. The ball goes back inside but George Smith does brilliantly to win the turnover.

59 mins: Highlanders 15 Reds 15

TRY!!! The Highlanders win the ball from the Reds' lineout. They're camped on the tryline now as Sopoaga finds Squire with a brilliant inside ball and he scores!

Sopoaga has no problem with the conversion, and we're back at level scores once again!

56 mins: Highlanders 8 Reds 15

Dixon throws again, Hemopo claims again. The Highlanders drive, but the Reds defence is solid to hold the ball up over the line. Highlanders have a 5m scrum.

Smith feeds, and Mikaele-Tu'u goes off the back. The Highlanders go wide as Naholo tries to step through, he gets the ball to Sopoaga now out on the right wing, but Lance and Kerevi force him into touch. The Reds survive againas they win a lineout.

53 mins: Highlanders 8 Reds 15

Dixon throws again and the Highlanders do well to hold onto possession. Smith finds Sopoaga who is tackled short, the reds give away another penalty and this could be a yellow for the Reds now.

Elsewhere, James Lentjes has failed his concussion test.

51 mins: Highlanders 8 Reds 15

Another penalty for the Highlanders, with the Tupou called for obstruction. Sopoaga finds touch and the Highlanders will have an attacking lineout in a great position. 

Dixon finds Hemopo from the lineout and the Highlanders drive, they win the advantage too. The Reds collapse the maul and Sopoaga finds touch again.

49 mins: Highlanders 8 Reds 15

The Highlanders are penalised for offside and the Reds opt for the lineout. Aaron Smith enters the field as a sub. The Reds drive forward again before looking to pick and go. JP Smith with another strong run, the Highlanders looking to keep numbers away from the breakdown, but they've won the turnover through Hunt as the Reds give away the penalty for not rolling away.

44 mins: Highlanders 8 Reds 15

Highlanders scrum. Hammington feeds, and the Highlanders run the ball. Sopoaga puts the bomb up with Naholo chasing, but the Reds have it under control. Paia'aua breaks through for the Reds! They get to the Highlanders 22 as they try to go wide out to the right hand side, Kerevi finds JP Smith who is tackled, Dillon Hunt nearly manages to turn the ball over.

The Reds rack up 13 phases, Rodda tries to pick and go, 19 phases. Kerevi gets the ball in some space and gets the offload away to Stewart! The fullback holds off the tackle of Hunt to score! 

Lance lines up the kick, but he's missed, the Reds lead by seven.

41 mins: Highlanders 8 Reds 10

Both sides back out on Suncorp, Jono Lance kicks off the get the second spell going.

HALFTIME: Highlanders 8 Reds 10

The Reds clear the ball to bring the first half to an end, the home side narrowly in front at the break.

39 mins: Highlanders 8 Reds 10

TRY!!! Another scrum for the Highlanders and again the Reds have won it! This time they want the lineout as the first half winds down. The Reds win the lineout and try to drive, but the Highlanders are resisting.

The referee has the arm out in the Reds' favour, but they won't need it as Paenga-Amosa barges his way over from close range! Scores level with the kick to come. 

Lance with the kick, and he's got it!

32 mins: Highlanders 8 Reds 3

Lentjes has to go off for a concussion test, meaning Liam Squire returns to the field after his broken thumb. The Highlanders have a scrum, but the Reds front row do brilliantly to force the penalty! Again, the Reds point to the posts, but Lance's kick is a shocker to keep the Highlanders ahead by five.

29 mins: Highlanders 8 Reds 3

TRY!!! A brilliant kick from Sopoaga has the Reds with a lineout on their own 5m line! The throw is terrible and the Highlanders have it! They've got the advantage too, Sopoaga goes wide to Naholo who spills the ball! They go back for the penalty though. We'll have a scrum.

The Highlanders go to Hammington from the back of the scrum, and he finds Tevita Li. The winger beats the first defender before holding off the second to go over in the corner! First try of the match for the Kiwis.

Sopoaga lines up the kick from the left, but he misses just to the left of the posts. Highlanders lead by five.

23 mins: Highlanders 3 Reds 3

Penalty! The Reds now trying to go forward, getting through nine phases before Franklin gives away a penalty. The Reds point to the posts now, as Lance lines up his first kick of the night, and he's got it, scores level.

19 mins: Highlanders 3 Reds 0

Penalty! The Highlanders opt for the points, as Sopoaga bangs the kick over to open the scoring. 

18 mins: Highlanders 0 Reds 0

The Highlanders go close! Sopoaga has a go at the line as the forwards look to pick and go. The referee has the arm out for advantage as the Highlanders are just short of opening the scoring. The highlanders claim a try through Hemopo, but he doesn't look confident. We're going up to the TMO, the referee says no try. It looks like Hemopo is tackled short, until the other forwards come in and drive him forward. 

No try the decision, but the Highlanders have the penalty to go back to.

15 mins: Highlanders 0 Reds 0

Rodda wins the lineout and the Reds look to run now. Kerevi goes hard at the line but is tackled, Lucas tries the box kick - but there's no chasers for the Reds! McKay returns fire for the Highlanders, Reds lineout.

13 mins: Highlanders 0 Reds 0

The Highlanders win a free kick from the Reds' scrum, and Sopoaga goes high. Perese lets the ball bounce as the Reds earn a lineout in the own half. Higginbotham claims and again the Reds look to drive. The Highlanders' forwards are all over the Reds here, but they give away a penalty for incorrect joining. Lance clears the danger for a Reds lineout.

8 mins: Highlanders 0 Reds 0

The Reds with an attacking lineout now. Paenga-Amosa throws and the Reds look to drive. The Highlanders bring it under control and Lucas goes out from the back. The Reds throw a wide pass to Petaia out wide, but the winger makes a meal of it to slow his side down. George Smith tries to run the ball but is clobbered by Ash Dixon, Kereve tries to go through as the Reds give away a penalty for an illegal clearout.

3 mins: Highlanders 0 Reds 0

Straight away the Reds have a scrum, after a Highlanders knock on. Lucas feeds, and Petaia takes it from the back. The Reds try to get over halfway, but the Highlanders defence is all over them. The ball is turned over and Sopoaga finds the corner. Great start for the Highlanders!

KICKOFF: Highlanders 0 Reds 0

We're away, as Lima Sopoaga gets things going!

9:44pm

The Reds out now, huge cheer from the Brisbane faithful.

9:43pm

The Highlanders are the first team out onto Suncorp, decked out in their flouro green away kit.

PRE MATCH

After last week's humiliating 41-12 loss to the Waratahs in Sydney, the Highlanders head north to Brisbane - hoping to restore some Kiwi pride against our Aussie neighbours.

However, Aaron Mauger's men will have to do so without a number of key players, with Aaron Smith and Liam Squire benched after All Blacks duty midweek, while co-captain Ben Smith has stayed in New Zealand.

For the Reds, coach Brad Thorn is putting faith in youth, with 19-year old lock Harry Hockings earning his first start in Super Rugby, while also naming a six-two forwards to backs split on the bench - expecting a bruising battle up front.

The last time these two sides met, the Highlanders thumped the Reds 40-17 in Dunedin late last year, with all of the try scorers from that match present tonight for the Kiwis.

TEAMS:

Highlanders: 15. Josh McKay, 14. Waisake Naholo, 13. Rob Thompson, 12. Teihorangi Walden, 11. Tevita Li, 10. Lima Sopoaga, 9. Kayne Hammington, 8. Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, 7. Dillon Hunt, 6. James Lentjes, 5. Tom Franklin, 4. Jackson Hemopo, 3. Tyrel Lomax, 2. Ash Dixon (c), 1. Daniel Lienert-Brown.

Replacements: 16. Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17. Aki Seiuli, 18. Kalolo Tuiloma, 19. Josh Dickon, 20. Liam Squire, 21. Aaron Smith, 22. Josh Ioane, 23. Richard Buckman.

Reds: 15. Hamish Stewart, 14. Izaia Perese, 13. Samu Kerevi, 12. Duncan Paia'aua, 11. Jordan Petaia, 10. Jono Lance, 9. Ben Lucas, 8. Scott Higginbotham (c), 7. George Smith, 6. Angus Scott-Young, 5. Harry Hockings, 4. Izack Rodda, 3. Taniela Tupou, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1. JP Smith.

Replacements: 16. Andrew Ready, 17. Sef Fa'agase, 18. Ruan Smith, 19. Kane Douglas, 20. Caleb Timu, 21. Liam Wright, 22. Moses Sorovi, 23. Aidan Toua.