The Highlanders squad has a number of new faces and this will make for a very exciting season in 2013.

The forward pack will be bolstered by the experience of Brad Thorn and Tony Woodcock who have played a combined total of 151 tests for the All Blacks and 205 Super Rugby matches.  Also joining the big men up front is Liam Coltman, Brayden Mitchell, Joe Wheeler and Jake Paringatai.  Coltman has impressed in the ITM Cup for Otago at both Hooker and Prop, while Wheeler has had a strong season for Tasman.  Mitchell has also impressed for Southland and has been a part of the Highlanders Wider Training Group over the last couple of seasons.  Paringatai had a taste of Super Rugby with the Crusaders in 2007, and is making his way back to Super Rugby with the Highlanders from Japan.

The back division includes marquee signing Ma’a Nonu from the Blues.  Nonu will join a backline that includes All Blacks Aaron Smith, Tamati Ellison, Hosea Gear, Colin Slade and Ben Smith.  Other new faces include; Jason Emery, Declan O’Donnell, Hayden Parker, Buxton Popoali’i and Fumiaki Tanaka.

Emery is in his first season of ITM Cup for Manawatu and will bring plenty of enthusiasm to the Highlanders squad.  O’Donnell joins the squad from the Chiefs and has power and speed to burn.  Otago has three new-comers in the backs; Hayden Parker, Buxton Popoali’i and Fumiaki Tanaka.  All three have impressed during the ITM Cup for the Razorbacks who made the final against Counties.

Highlanders 2013 Squad
Forwards
Josh Bekhuis (Lock)
Tim Boys (Loose forward)
Liam Coltman (Hooker)
Elliot Dixon (Loose forward)
Ma’afu Fia (Prop)
John Hardie (Flanker)
Jarrad Hoeata (Loose forward)
Andrew Hore (Hooker)
Chris King (Prop)
Jamie Mackintosh (Prop)
Nasi Manu (Loose forward)
Brayden Mitchell (Hooker)
Jake Paringatai (Loose forward)
Brad Thorn (Legend)
Joe Wheeler (Lock/ loose forward)
Tony Woodcock (Prop)


Backs
Phil Burleigh (Midfield back)
Tamati Ellison (Midfield back)
Jason Emery (Midfield back)
Hosea Gear (Wing)
Ma’a Nonu (Midfield back)
Declan O’Donnell (Wing)
Kade Poki (Wing)
Hayden Parker (First five-eight)
Buxton Popoali'i (Wing/Fullback)
Colin Slade (First five-eighth)
Aaron Smith (Halfback)
Ben Smith (Wing/Fullback)
Lima Sopoaga (First five-eighth)
Fumiaki Tanaka (Halfback)
Shaun Treeby (Midfield back)

The Highlanders start the 2013 Investec Super Rugby competition against the defending champion Chiefs on February 22 in Dunedin.  Their pre-season includes games against the Chiefs on 2 February in Taupo, Crusaders in Oamaru on 8 February and Blues in Queenstown on 15 February.