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The Highlanders reveal youthful, new look squad for 2024

By Ned Lester
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The Highlanders had by far the most turbulent offseason out of the New Zealand Super Rugby Pacific clubs, losing 16 players in 2023.


The key departure was of course club legend Aaron Smith. The most-capped Highlander of all time as well as the most-capped All Black back ever, Smith exited the club after 13 years of service and one Super Rugby title.

Shannon Frizell, Josh Dickson, Mitch Hunt and Marino Mikaele-Tu’u join Smith as notable absences in 2024.

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The club have been busy restructuring their squad, bringing in a wealth of young talent as well as recruiting numerous intriguing additions like Timoci Tavatavanawai, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens and Rhys Patchell.

Jamie Joseph has also returned to the club, this time in a Head of Rugby capacity to steer the direction of the club’s rebuild and mentor coach Clarke Dermody.

Dermody said he was excited about the new look of his squad: “We have had a few changes in our squad and our coaching group so it will be great to get everyone together and start building some cohesion through the preseason. We will just about have our whole squad together from day one, which is a nice opportunity for us.”

“I am also pleased to see some of the younger players that we have invested in over the last few years start to come through to Super Rugby level. I am sure their individual enthusiasm will be infectious for the squad.”



Highlanders squad for Super Rugby Pacific 2024

James Arscott (Otago)
Connor Garden-Bachop (Wellington)
Martín Bogado (Argentina)
Folau Fakatava (Hawkes Bay)
Ajay Faleafaga (Otago)
Sam Gilbert (Otago)
Nathan Hastie (Otago)
Jacob Ratumaituvuki-Kneepkens (Taranaki)
Jonah Lowe (Hawkes Bay)
Cameron Millar (Otago)
Jona Nareki (Otago)
Rhys Patchell (Wales)
Jake Te Hiwi (Otago)
Timoci Tavatavanawai (Tasman)
Tanielu Tele’a (Auckland)
Josh Timu (Otago)
Matt Whaanga (Southland)
Jermaine Ainsley (Otago)
Henry Bell (Otago)
Nikora Broughton (Bay of Plenty)
Daniel Lienert-Brown (Canterbury)
Mitchell Dunshea (Canterbury)
Ethan De Groot (Southland)
Oliver Haig (Otago)
Billy Harmon (Canterbury)
 Max Hicks (Tasman)
Fabian Holland (Otago)
Luca Inch (Tasman)
Ricky Jackson (Otago)
Ayden Johnstone (Waikato)
Saula Ma’u (Otago)
Hayden Michaels (Southland)
Pari Pari Parkinson (Tasman),
Hugh Renton (Tasman),
Tom Sanders (Otago)
Jack Taylor (Southland)
Will Tucker (Otago)
Sean Withy (Otago)


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1 Comment
Utiku Old Boy 248 days ago

Even with the youthful nature of the squad, the forward pack has a pretty good toughness about it. Backs remain unconvincing to me. All the best Highlanders!

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