Highlanders

Highlanders confirm 'gaps to fill' in roster as Waisake Naholo returns to NZ

Naholo played only a handful of games during a two-year spell in the UK as he battled a persistent knee injury.

However, he is a chance of playing club rugby in Dunedin this weekend and when asked about Naholo, Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark told Stuff on Monday that they “still have gaps to fill for 2022”.

The Highlanders would have to be convinced that Naholo’s knee could stand up to the rigours of Super Rugby, particularly after Liam Squire and Nehe Milner-Skudder both struggled for game time this year.

Blues claim Trans-Tasman silverware

They have beaten the Highlanders 23-15 in the Trans-Tasman final at Eden Park in Auckland to lift their first Super Rugby trophy since 2003.

Blake Gibson scored the match-sealing try for the Blues in the 77th minute after a tense second half which saw the Highlanders overturn a 13-6 halftime deficit.

"I haven't scored many tries and I normally show no emotion as well, but that one felt pretty good, aye," Gibson told Sky Sport.

Blues to host Highlanders in trans-Tasman final as Crusaders fall short

Needing only to win to secure their spot after the Crusaders failed to rack up enough points against the Rebels in Saturday's earlier match, the Blues completed their mission reasonably comfortably against the Perth-based Australians.

Four unanswered tries in the first half, including two for loose forward Hoskins Sotutu, all but secured the Blues a first home Super Rugby final since they won their third title in the international competition in 2003.

Highlanders, Hurricanes face nervous wait for Super final destiny

The Highlanders' bonus-point win at Canberra Stadium put them top of the table on 23 points, two points ahead of the second-placed Hurricanes, but both teams need results to go their way on Saturday.

The third-placed Blues (19 points) can claim the top spot and the right to host the final with victory at home to the Western Force but the equation is tougher for the fourth-placed Crusaders (18).

Aaron Smith returns as Highlanders look to secure Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final spot

With a place in the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final on the line, the Highlanders have left no stone unturned as they have named a full-strength side to take on the Super Rugby AU runners-up at GIO Stadium on Friday.

In doing so, interim head coach Clarke Dermody has reinstated Smith into the No 9 jersey after the seasoned veteran was rested during last week’s 59-23 thumping of the Waratahs in Dunedin.

The 32-year-old takes the place of Kayne Hammington, who is demoted to the bench after celebrating his 50th appearance for the Highlanders against the Waratahs.

Highlanders clinical in Rebels defeat

The Rebels, who have yet to win in the competition this season, briefly took an unexpected one point lead early in the second half when George Worth slotted over his penalty from near the halfway line.

But after Uelese was shown the yellow card for kicking the ball away, the Highlanders took control, with a penalty try putting them back in front before tries from Josh Dickson and Jona Nareki effectively clinched the game.

Highlanders move Rebels match to Sydney

The two teams were scheduled to meet in Queenstown on Sunday.

But a Covid-19 outbreak in Victoria this week, and a lockdown announced on Thursday, meant that was no longer possible after the New Zealand government extended their pause on quarantine-free travel from the state.

The Rebels had flown to Sydney on Wednesday, in the hope of then transferring to Queenstown.

But New Zealand's Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the team were covered by the travel pause because they were in Melbourne when it came into affect on Tuesday night.

Highlanders may freshen up side for Rebels game after long trip to Perth

The Highlanders beat the Force 25-15 on Friday to record their first back-to-back wins in two years, but the long trip back from Perth will be a consideration for the coaches as they mull changes to the side to face the struggling Rebels.

“Yeh, potentially,” coach Clarke Dermody said after the Highlanders game on Friday. “We'll obviously do the next couple of days well.

“When we get home we’ll see how everybody’s bodies are and how the boys are feeling.

Hurricanes, Highlanders continue NZ winning streak

After the Hurricanes' 35-13 romp over the Melbourne Rebels in Wellington, the Highlanders fended off the Western Force 25-15 in Perth on Friday to extend Australia's winless streak to 7-0.

Having humbled Australian champions Queensland 40-19 in week one, the Highlanders stormed out of the blocks with three first-half tries to Jona Nareki, Ayden Johnstone and Scott Gregory before locking down the match after the break.

Mop-haired inside centre Gregory grabbed a second try on the hour-mark, leaving Force with too big a mountain to climb.

All Black Shannon Frizell returns to Highlanders side to face Force

Frizell was omitted from the side that beat the Reds in Dunedin last Friday due to an assault allegation. However, the 27-year-old has not been charged following the incident at a popular Dunedin restaurant/bar and coach Clarke Dermody said he was ready to return to work.

“Last week he wasn’t in the right head space to play for us,” Dermody said. “We decided to leave him out and it was the right decision.

“He seems energised now and ready to go again. He's an experienced tourist as well, which is great for our younger guys.