Highlanders

Highly rated halfback Folau Fakatava re-signs with the Highlanders until 2023

After an impressive Mitre 10 Cup campaign with Hawke's Bay, Fakatava has made a strong start to the Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign sharing halfback duties with All Black Aaron Smith.

Fakatava said Smith's guidance has been a huge help to his development as a player and he's enjoying living in Dunedin.

Nareki hat-trick sparks Highlanders win

After twice being reduced to 14 men, and struggling for momentum in the first half, the Highlanders looked in trouble as the home team took a 20-11 lead into halftime.

But the Chiefs' organisation on defence proved too haphazard in the second spell, and Nareki was in punishing form.

The two teams had exchanged early penalties in a cautious start, Damian McKenzie sinking two for the Chiefs while Josh Ioane kept the Highlanders in touch with one.

New Highlanders signing Solomon Alaimalo moves south for 2021 provincial season

Rugby Southland confirmed the significant coup on Friday, the same day Alaimalo will make his debut for the Highlanders in the opening match of the 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa season since moving south from the Chiefs.

By signing for Southland, the 25-year-old will also have a new side to play for in the NPC as he joins younger brother Charles, who has been at the Stags for the past two seasons, in Invercargill.

According to a report from Stuff, Alaimalo is believed to have turned down offers from bigger provincial unions to join Southland.

Crusaders defeat Highlanders in Super Rugby pre-season match

Winger Timoci Tavatavanawai scored two tries for the Crusaders, while prop Fletcher Newell and flanker Sione Havili also crossed for the reigning Super Rugby Aotearoa champions.

Brett Cameron converted all four tries to secure the come-from-behind win.

Highlanders hooker Liam Coltman (2) and wingers Jona Nareki and Ngane Punivai scored the Highlanders tries.

The dramatic win may come at a cost for the Crusaders, who lost tighthead prop Oli Jager to a potentially serious foot injury.

     

Highlanders sign star Otago wing Freedom Vahaakolo

Vahaakolo scored seven tries in his debut season for Otago last year and won the NZRPA Mitre 10 Young Player of the Year award, impressing his peers with his pace, power and finishing ability.

Eyebrows were therefore raised when he missed out on a full Super Rugby contract but the door has now opened in Dunedin, with Highlanders wing Sam Gilbert not expected to be available until April as he recovers from the ACL injury he suffered last year.

Highlanders and Reds to kick off Super Rugby Trans-Tasman

The draw has been finalised for the five-week competition.

The Highlanders and Crusaders will be at home in round one with the Hurricanes, Blues and Chiefs heading to Australia for the start of a tournament that pits New Zealand's five Super Rugby against the Reds, NSW Waratahs, Brumbies, Melbourne Rebels and Western Force.

The final between the two top-placed teams on the combined competition table is scheduled for Saturday, 19 June.

Liam Squire ready for Highlanders and All Blacks return

Squire last played for the team in 2019 and has been back in New Zealand rehabilitating an injury after a brief stint playing in Japan, he is expected to be back to full fitness by the time the competition starts on February 26th.

The former test blindside will join Japanese World Cup player Kazuki Himeno, Crusader Billy Harmon and James Lentjes in the loose forwards, with the latter returning from injury after missing Super Rugby Aotearoa in 2020.

Highlanders appoint Shane Christie as defence coach

The move also deepens the Highlanders’ ties to the Tasman Mako and the men from the Deep South will hope that Christie can introduce the defensive starch that has been evident in the Mako's play over the past two seasons.

“Obviously I am stoked to be able to work alongside Brownie, Derms and Flutes,” the 35-year-old said in a statement.

“The chance to coach defence for the Highlanders is an awesome opportunity and I can’t wait to get to Dunedin and get stuck into our work.

“It’s already been a big year and this is a great way to finish it for me”.

Highlanders sign Japanese test star for 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa season

The move was announced by his Top League club Toyota Verblitz on Monday, meaning the 26-year-old loose forward will join Brave Blossoms assistant coach Tony Brown – who is also Highlanders assistant and is tipped to take the vacant head coach role – in Dunedin next year.

Toyota, the club that signed former All Blacks captain Kieran Read and ex-All Blacks coach Steve Hansen last year, have also recruited Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper and ex-Chiefs duo Tiaan Falcon and Michael Allardice in recent months.

Highlanders sign off Super Rugby Aotearoa with a win

The Hurricanes' loss ended their five-game winning streak and robbed them of the chance to leapfrog the Blues into second place on the table.

The Crusaders won the title last week with a game to spare, but their final match of the season against the Blues at Eden Park on Sunday was [cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions].

The Hurricanes-Highlanders game was able to go ahead but without a crowd, with artificial noise created for the television audience.

The match was played at a frenetic pace with the sides locked at 14-all at halftime after scoring two tries each.