The Pulse Energy Highlanders are looking to the future announcing the following four promising young players who will make up their rugby club’s apprentice programme for 2017; Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Flynn Thomas, Mosese Dawai, Vilimoni Koroi were all members of the New Zealand Secondary School team in either 2015 or 2016 (Thomas - 2015/16, Dawai – 2016, Koroi - 2016 and Umaga-Jensen – 2015) and have shown the talent and skill necessary to develop into great players in the future.
The apprentice programme has been designed to fast-track young players preparation for Super Rugby by giving them access to expert coaching, strength and conditioning and nutrition advice. This programme commenced in 2014 and included current Highlander Patelesio Tomkinson and Otago Mitre 10 lock Josh Dickson.
Pulse Energy Highlanders High Performance Coach, Jon Preston, commented, “Flynn is an extremely hard-working and smart front-rower with an excellent skill set, Thomas is a big powerful mid-fielder who was outstanding for Scotts College and NZ Schools alongside his brother Peter and Vilimoni and Mosese were both star wingers for Fielding High School. Vilimoni has explosive pace and great finishing while Mosese’s standout performances elevated him to the starting team in NZ Secondary Schools. We’re looking forward to see how they develop in our environment."
Top (L-R): Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Mosese Dawai
Bottom (L-R): Flynn Thomas, Vilimoni Koroi
Fans are being encouraged to get in quick to secure their tickets for the Highlanders match against The British & Irish Lions when tickets go on general sale tomorrow (28 October) at 12pm.
Tickets for the eagerly anticipated DHL NZ Lions Series 2017 match will be available from www.nzlionsseries17.com with adult seats available from $39.
John Christie, Director at Enterprise Dunedin, said hosting The British & Irish Lions would be one of the sporting highlights for the city in 2017.
“We can all recall the last time the Lions played in Dunedin in 2005, thousands of local and visiting fans made for a tremendous occasion. Again, we’re anticipating the city will be awash with fans and we are delighted to host the British & Irish Lions vs Highlanders match which will showcase Dunedin as the best venue for sporting events in the country.”
Highlanders Chief Executive, Roger Clark said the first ever meeting of the British & Irish Lions and the Highlanders was shaping up to be a great contest.
“This game will represent the first time the Pulse Energy Highlanders have ever played an international team, for the players the opportunity to play against the Lions comes along only once in their career. This event is truly significant in the history of our club. I have no doubt this unique and historic day will be marked by a huge crowd and a magnificent atmosphere.”
The public sale follows a priority period from early October with thousands of community members (including players, club members, volunteers), season ticket holders, stadium members and Team All Blacks members snapping up the available allocation of tickets.
The matches on sale exclude the All Blacks Test matches, which are only available by entering an online ballot which closes on 1 November or securing official hospitality or travel packages.
The Pulse Energy Highlanders will square off against the Chiefs and Crusaders in their first two home games of the competition in 2017. These have been classic encounters in recent seasons and will provide a stern test for new Head Coach Tony Brown’s team early on.
Other home games in 2017 will feature the Blues and Stormers, as well as the Japanese expansion team the Sunwolves for the very first time against the Highlanders. There will be clashes against Australian teams the Rebels, Waratahs and Reds.
In total the Highlanders have eight home games scheduled of which seven will be played in Dunedin and one in Invercargill.
New Zealand Rugby has been presented Highlanders Head Coach Jamie Joseph with a pounamu mere in recognition of his 100 games at the helm for the Highlanders.
The traditional gift was presented by former Highlanders Coach and coaching mentor Tony Gilbert at a farewell function for Jamie Joseph.
Joseph began his NZ coaching career in Wellington eventually guiding the Lions to Ranfurly Shield success in 2008 as well as national championship finals in 2008 and 2009. In 2010 Jamie was appointed Maori All Blacks Coach and he guided them to a clean sweep against the New Zealand Barbarians, before taking on Ireland and a famous victory over England. He took over the reins of the Highlanders in 2011 with his debut being a win against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Known as an uncompromising coach with old fashioned values and strong work ethic, he has fashioned the Highlanders into a formidable team who have enjoyed success through most of his era, particularly at their Dunedin fortress Forsyth Barr Stadium. However, his tenure will forever be remembered for delivering the Highlanders their first ever Investec Super Rugby title in 2015.
“Jamie has left a legacy here that will stand this club in good stead for many seasons to come, you simply can’t ask for more than that from your coach. We thank him for his contribution and wish him and his family all the best in the future,” said Highlanders CEO Roger Clark.
New Zealand Rugby General Manager Rugby Neil Sorensen said Joseph's contribution to rugby has been outstanding.
"What Jamie has been able to achieve in rugby down South is the stuff of legends. We knew that when Jamie first joined the Highlanders, that as a former son of Otago, he would be welcomed by rugby fans there.
"Jamie has been a big part of the Highlanders popularity and success. Under his watch, several Highlanders have earned higher honours with the All Blacks and Maori All Blacks bringing success that any coach would be proud of," he said.
"We are excited for Jamie as he heads to Japan - the hosts of the next Rugby World Cup - and we wish him well for the future," Sorensen said.
The fast-paced, flowing nature of rugby tens will suit the Highlanders down to the ground as they challenge for the inaugural Brisbane Global Tens rugby title next February, says captain Ben Smith.
The 2015 Super Rugby champions were eliminated from this season’s competition despite a courageous display in Johannesburg at the weekend, however Smith is already looking forward to the next chance to add to the team’s trophy cabinet.
“We love fast footy, and it’s certainly been a trait teams are developing and working on right across the competition,” Smith said. “For us, it’s going to be a great way to hit the 2017 season running, in a great festival type format that we know our team is absolutely going to love! We have lots of fans in Queensland and we can’t wait to get there and play in front of them and our travelling kiwi supporters in this awesome event.”
Played at Brisbane’s incredible Suncorp Stadium on February 11 and 12, the Brisbane Global Tens features all 10 New Zealand and Australian Super Rugby clubs plus French powerhouse Toulon, Japan’s Robbie Deans-coached Panasonic Wild Knights, South Africa’s Blue Bulls and the Samoan national team.
Teams featuring the game’s biggest stars will compete in ten-a-side matches over 10-minute halves in pool play and then knockout matches.
Highlanders CEO Roger Clark encouraged fans to travel to Brisbane to experience the event and support the team.
“The opportunity for us to continue to grow the popularity of our game and brand is really exciting,” Clark said.
“The festival event is going to attract new fans for our team, the competition and the sport, whilst creating a fantastic must-do event for our long-standing fans.”
Tickets, which go on sale to general public in New Zealand from Thursday, August 11, can be purchased from www.ticketek.com.au/BrisbaneTens
For more information on corporate packages and travel package specials visit the official Brisbane Global Tens website at www.brisbaneglobaltens.com or https://sportsnetholidays.com/events/rugby/brisbane-global-tens-2017/
Coach Tony Brown believes the tournament will play a vital role in the team’s pre-season preparations.
“Pre-season is a really significant phase of competition preparation for our team – physically, mentally and culturally,” Brown said.
“We travel so well as a group and to have the opportunity to test our fitness and conditioning in a unique format will give us great indication of where we are at as a team. As Ben said, we love fast footy, so an event like this is going to really spin our wheels”.
Brisbane Global Tens
- All ten Australian and New Zealand Super Rugby clubs and four elite invitational teams will compete (in 2017 the event will feature Toulon, the Bulls, Samoa and the Panasonic Wild Knights)
- Ten-players-per-side, ten-minutes-per-half, knockout tournament
- Culmination of a week-long festival of rugby
- 16 hours of compelling live rugby, featuring 28 matches played over two days
- Broadcast live across Australia, New Zealand, UK, Japan, Africa, France and other major international markets
- Held annually on the second weekend of February, two weeks prior to the start of the Super Rugby season, at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
- Launches the rugby season in Australia and New Zealand
- Sanctioned by the Australian Rugby Union and the New Zealand Rugby Union
- Tickets on sale in New Zealand from Thursday August 11. Visit www.ticketek.com.au/BrisbaneTens
- For more information on corporate packages and travel package specials visit the official Brisbane Global Tens website at www.brisbaneglobaltens.com or https://sportsnetholidays.com/events/rugby/brisbane-global-tens-2017/