The Pulse Energy Highlanders squad for the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens to be played at Suncorp Stadium on Feb 11/12 has been announced today. Highlanders Head Coach Tony Brown said the squad to play in the inaugural tournament are aware of the fast paced nature of the game. “We had a practice game last week and obviously with five less guys on the paddock there is a lot of running around. It’s a great opportunity to get some running rugby under our belts and I know the players and coaching staff are pretty pumped about the occasion.”
The Highlanders are drawn to play the Brumbies and Hurricanes on day one and the Bulls on day two. “While we don’t know a lot about what to expect tactically we do know that all the teams we play are going to bring a lot of intensity, speed and skill to the games” said Brown.
There is a lot of speed and guile in the Highlanders backs with the likes of Tevita Li, Matt Faddes and Jason Emery while the forwards possess strength and pace in the form of loose forwards Gareth Evans, James Lentjes and Luke Whitelock, who will captain the side. All Black hooker Liam Coltman has been released to play by NZ Rugby and is included in the squad.
Flying winger Tevita Li is excited about the prospect of playing “it’s a great way to build into Super Rugby for the guys with a bit of ball in hand and space to run. Suncorp is an awesome stadium and no doubt the atmosphere will be electric.”
Duco Australia chief executive Rachael Carroll said “It’s clear from the squad lists confirmed today that New Zealand teams competing at the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens are stacked full of elite talent. The squads are a combination of the finest rugby players of the current generation and some of the most exciting stars of the future. “The Highlanders are clearly going to put on a hugely entertaining show at an event that is the most exciting, dynamic innovation to hit rugby in years.”
The Pulse Energy Highlanders Squad for the Brisbane Global Tens
Forwards: Aki Seiuli, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Liam Coltman, Josh Dickson, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, James Lentjes, Craig Millar, Dillon Hunt, Gareth Evans, Adrian Smith, Luke Whitelock (C)
Backs: Kayne Hammington, Josh Renton, Fletcher Smith, Tei Walden, Rob Thompson, Jason Emery, Tevita Li, Matt Faddes, Sio Tomkinson, Marty Banks.
Credit: Chris Sullivan - Seen in Dunedin (Parker) / Getty Images (Banks)
Pulse Energy Highlanders first five-eight Hayden Parker has sustained a knee injury during preseason training that will keep him side-lined from the playing field. The training incident caused a rupture to the ACL of his right knee that will require months to repair and rehab.
Parker missed most of the 2016 season with the same type of injury and had only just returned to fulltime training in the last few weeks.
Highlanders Head Coach Tony Brown said “Obviously we are all pretty gutted for Hayden; he has worked so hard to get back to fitness and was really looking forward to the season. We wish him well with his rehab”.
Hayden Parker debuted for the Highlanders in 2013 and has scored 86 points for the club in 30 games.
Experienced Tasman first-five Marty Banks has joined the Highlanders this week as a temporary injury replacement.
The Pulse Energy Highlanders are delighted to welcome Swanndri as major partner. After enjoying a good relationship as an off field apparel sponsor since 2015 Swanndri will now appear on the Highlanders game day match jersey. “This is a fantastic opportunity for our club to be associated with such an iconic kiwi brand as Swanndri. I know the players have provided us with very positive feedback over the last few seasons about the quality, look and feel of the Swanndri garments” says Highlanders CEO Roger Clark.
“One of my everlasting memories of the 2015 final will be all those blue and black swannies invading the pitch at the final whistle”.
“We have been working closely with Swanndri over the last two years, exploring ways in which we can be of mutual benefit to each other. We believe the strength of our two organisations is that we stand for the same strong values and we are both intent on growing our brands even further “says Highlanders Commercial Manager Mike Kerr.
“Swanndri has been involved with the Highlanders for the last two seasons supplying the guys with game day kit, but as of next season we are very proud to have elevated this relationship to become a jersey sponsor” says Swanndri Chief Executive, Mark Nevin. “Otago and Southland have always been very strong regions for Swanndri and so this is a wonderful way to say thank you to all those who have supported the brand over our 100 plus years of history.”
In the last two seasons Swanndri has provided iconic styled shirts and outerwear to the squad, but for 2017 they guys will be stepping out on game day in a smart looking kit which includes a blazer made from 100% New Zealand merino.
Nevin says “the values the Highlanders brand represents are closely aligned to those of Swanndri, and so coupled with the strong national market presence we have and significant international growth into Australia and the UK, this sponsorship is a very good strategic fit.
The agreement is for two years.
The Pulse Energy Highlanders have confirmed venues for their 2017 Investec Super Rugby Season home games. The Japanese expansion team, the Sunwolves, will play the Pulse Energy Highlanders for the first time ever deep in Highlander country at Rugby Park Stadium (kick-off 5.15pm, Saturday 22nd April). Invercargill City Council Mayor, Tim Shadbolt, commented, “we are delighted to have the Sunwolves come and play in our city, Invercargill has a strong Japanese connection with the longstanding relationship with sister city Kumagaya (Japan) and we know we will get a fantastic crowd along to both support the Highlanders and welcome the Sunwolves – it’s going to be a great game”.
Pulse Energy Highlanders CEO, Roger Clark, added “it is important for us as a club to recognise the great support we get from Southland, especially Invercargill, and with help from the Invercargill City Council, we are able to consistently bring great Super Rugby games to them. We can’t wait to play the Sunwolves at Rugby Park Stadium next year and the early kick-off time should make it easier for those travelling from a little further.”
Invercargill won’t be a new venue for some of the Sunwolves with two members of their management team having grown up in Invercargill; local boys Simon Jones, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach (previously worked with the Stags and Southern Steel) and Ben Herring, a member of the Sunwolves coaching team (played for both the Southland Stags and Highlanders during his rugby career), will be looking forward to visiting New Zealand with the Sunwolves. Pulse Energy Highlanders ex-Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, is also expected to travel with the team when they return to New Zealand in 2017.
The remaining six home games against the Chiefs, Crusaders, Rebels, Blues, Stormers, Waratahs and Reds will be played at Forsyth Barr Stadium kicking off at 7.35pm.
2017 Pulse Energy Highlanders Home Draw below:
The Pulse Energy Highlanders squad to contest the 2017 Investec Super Rugby Competition has been announced. The team includes five players new to the squad as well as fulltime professional contracts for Fletcher Smith and Aki Seiuli who joined the Highlanders in 2016 as injury replacements.
The team features 33 players returning from 2016 which will provide experience and continuity for new head coach Tony Brown. “It’s always an exciting day when you name a squad and particularly for me given it’s my first year as Head Coach. I think the balance of the squad is good we have a number of experienced players returning but also some exciting young players who haven’t had a lot of Super Rugby game time that will get an opportunity to have a crack”.
New signings Tevita Li (Blues) , Kayne Hammington and Siate Tokolahi (Chiefs) and prop Guy Millar (Western Force) will join young Otago lock Josh Dickson in their debut season for the Highlanders in 2017.
The team welcomes back Richard Buckman, Hayden Parker and Josh Renton from long-term injuries sustained in 2016 however prop Brendon Edmonds was ruled out of selection as he is yet to recover fully from his knee injury.
The 2017 Pulse Energy Highlanders
Liam Coltman, Ash Dixon, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Guy Millar*, Siate Tokolahi*, Aki Seiuli, Craig Millar, Tom Franklin, Joe Wheeler, Alex Ainley, Josh Dickson*, Jackson Hemopo, Luke Whitelock, Liam Squire, James Lentjes, Gareth Evans, Dan Pryor, Shane Christie, Elliot Dixon
Aaron Smith, Kayne Hammington*, Josh Renton, Lima Sopoaga, Hayden Parker, Fletcher Smith, Rob Thompson, Patelesio Tomkinson, Teihorangi Walden, Richard Buckman, Matt Faddes, Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa, Patrick Osborne, Tevita Li*, Jason Emery , Ben Smith
*Debut season for Highlanders in 2017