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The Highlanders confirm the departures of six players

By Ned Lester
Pari Pari Parkinson of the Highlanders greets fans in Queenstown. Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images

The Highlanders, fresh off elimination at the hands of the Brumbies in the Super Rugby Pacific quarter-finals, have confirmed a list of six names departing the club this offseason.

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The list includes internationals from Argentina, Wales, Australia and the Maori All Blacks, denting the senior leadership group of the young squad.

News of captain Billy Harmon’s departure made its way into public knowledge late last month, and a post on social media on Tuesday confirmed the All Blacks XV flanker is Japan-bound ahead of the 2024-25 season.

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Fellow Maori All Black and former Wallaby Jermaine Ainsley is headed for French club Lyon after three strong seasons in the Highlanders blue where the 28-year-old became a leading figure in a young forward pack.

Also heading to France is young Argentine winger Martin Bogado, with the three-cap international finding a new home at Oyannax.

Pari Pari Parkinson, another Maori All Black once slated for a strong international career in black, has found a new home as well after an unfortunately injury-plagued Highlanders career. Parkinson, standing at 204 cm and 120 kg, will no doubt be remembered as a “what if” having struggled to stay on the field throughout his seven years with the club.

Former Welsh international Rhys Patchell’s one-year stint in Dunedin has come to an end, having offered limited yet quality minutes on the field but more importantly, plenty of mentorship to the young playmaking duo of Ajay Faleafaga and Cam Millar.

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Finally, the club farewells Connor Gardon-Bachop, the 25-year-old having spent four years at the club while plying his NPC trade with Wellington.

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The club posted to social media with the message: “As we wrap up our 2024 season, we just want to take the opportunity to say thank you, goodbye and good luck to our players who are confirmed to finish up their time in the blue, gold and maroon jersey. Good on ya mates.”

This year’s departing cohort, while significant, is only a fraction of the loss the team suffered following last season when half the 2023 squad left the club.

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While the losses of the bulk of the club’s most experienced and tenured names over a short period of just 12 months signals further struggles in the coming seasons for the Highlanders, the improved record this season came largely thanks to the next generation of talent coming through the ranks.

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2 Comments
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Scott 10 days ago

Does anyone know which club or franchise signed Pari Pari Parkinson???

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Turlough 18 minutes ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

“You want that – not hatred – but whatever it is that stirs it all up. It’s good.” Agree with this. If you can put a common motivating idea in all your players heads during a game it can produce a real Team perfromance. Erasmus is pretty expert at this. It is quite clear that the comments by Etzebeth, Allende and others were not coincidence and were actioned to create animoisty before the series in order to galvanise the South African mind set. While I understand it, I don’t like it. They result in unnessary vitriol between supporters and for what? I don’t think any of the SA players seriously believe any of these claims and with Ireland ignoring them Erasmus won’t get the escalation he seeks. The vitriol shown by some SA and indeed NZ supporters is extremely weird for NH supporters (OK, maybe England have felt it) but it just feels very odd over a sport. Ireland were more or less sh1t for the first 100 years of their rugby, they have improved significantly in the last 25 to be in a position around now (it may not last) to go into a match with the big guns with a real shot of winning. The reaction to this from some SH supporters has been bizarre with conspiracy theories of ‘Arrogance’ fueling abuse from supporters and even NZ players to Irish crowds during the world cup. I love International rugby and the comraderie between supporters. I genuinely dread and dislike the atmosphere around games with the southern giants. They take this very personally. NH teams: play them, try and beat them, enjoy the craic with their players and supporters and wish them well. SH teams wish them well and they call you arrogant in the press months later. Its just a matter of try and beat them and then good riddance til the next time.

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