Photo credit: Chris Sullivan/Seen in Dunedin - Highlanders v Crusaders , Forsyth Barr Stadium, 24 May 2014
The Highlanders will play their first pre-season game of 2015 in Timaru on 24th January. It will be a South Island derby against the Crusaders. Highlanders CEO Roger Clark said they are excited to be getting the 2015 season started with this
classic southern clash. “There is nothing our fans love more than a Highlanders vs Crusaders clash, and to have the game so close to home is a bonus. We also kick off the regular competition with a game against the Crusaders on 21 February, so the fierce but friendly rivalry between these teams will be in full flight in 2015,” Mr Clark said.
Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach said it is fitting that the game will be played halfway between the two teams’ home bases. “The Crusaders and Highlanders traditionally meet in the pre-season and it is always a fiercely contested and exciting game. Having the game in Timaru next year, which is within the Crusaders catchment area but very close to the Highlanders region, is great news for fans of both teams. We are hopeful that we will get a good turnout of both Crusaders and Highlanders fans to this game, which would be a great way to kick the season off,” Mr Riach said. “We are grateful to the South Canterbury Rugby Union for agreeing to host the game and we know from previous games that we’ve held in Timaru that they’ll do a fantastic job of it.”
South Canterbury RFU Chairman Brent Isbister said the Union is delighted to be bringing a pre-season game to Timaru.
The Highlanders play two additional pre-season games in Australia against the Brumbies and the Rebels before starting the 2015 Investec Super Rugby Season in Round 2 against the Crusaders at home on Saturday 21 February.
The Highlanders start to the 2015 Super Rugby season in the second round due to a bye in round one. This will be the only time the fans and the team has to relax in this condensed Investec Super Rugby season where round robin games conclude on Saturday 13th June due to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The bye is followed with a block of six games; five of those being at home with the Crusaders first up, then Reds, Chiefs away and Waratahs, Hurricanes and Stormers at home at Forsyth Barr Stadium, and then well-earned rest in the form of a bye in week eight. The Highlanders will need to make the most of the bye as they head into the second half of the competition with 10 games on-the-trot, restarting with Crusaders at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
The ANZAC Centenary celebrations will take place during round 11 when the Highlanders play the Brumbies in the Australian capital, Canberra. They will then return to Dunedin to play the Sharks before heading to South Africa in round 13 to begin their South African tour; starting in Johannesburg against the Lions and then Bloemfontein to play the Cheetahs. The Highlanders stop in Perth to play the Force on their way back to New Zealand and then line against the Chiefs for their final home game. Due to FIFA under 20 World Cup commitments at Forsyth Barr Stadium this game will be played at an alternate venue still to be confirmed.
The Highlanders’ 2015 Super Rugby regular season finishes up with two New Zealand derbies against the Hurricanes and the Blues in Wellington and Auckland before the finals series begin. The Highlanders will be looking to build on an exciting 2014 season.
Highlanders, Aaron Smith and Ben Smith, have been named in the starting XV to take on the Springboks in Wellington.
The All Blacks team to play South Africa in the highly-anticipated Investec Rugby Championship match in Wellington this weekend has been named.
The All Blacks will play South Africa for the first time this year at Westpac Stadium on Saturday 13 September (kick-off: 7.35PM NZT live on SKY TV).
The team is (with Test caps in brackets):
1. Wyatt Crockett (30)
2. Dane Coles (21)
3. Owen Franks (60)
4. Brodie Retallick (30)
5. Jeremy Thrush (6)
6. Steven Luatua (12)
7. Richie McCaw (c) (130)
8. Kieran Read (65)
9. Aaron Smith (32)
10. Aaron Cruden (34)
11. Julian Savea (25)
12. Ma'a Nonu (93)
13. Conrad Smith (79)
14. Ben Smith (32)
15. Israel Dagg (40)
16. Keven Mealamu (116)
17. Joe Moody (2)
18. Ben Franks (34)
19. Patrick Tuipulotu (2)
20. Sam Cane (17)
21. TJ Perenara (6)
22. Beauden Barrett (22)
23. Cory Jane (50)
The changes to the team which beat Argentina on the weekend are mainly injury-related, with Jeremy Thrush coming in at lock and Steven Luatua at blindside flanker for the injured Sam Whitelock and Liam Messam respectively, with Patrick Tuipulotu on the bench.
Meanwhile, Aaron Cruden has recovered from his chest injury to take his place in the number 10 jersey, with Beauden Barrett moving to the bench. Cory Jane also comes into the match day squad as outside back cover.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: "This week we have to find a desperation and hunger in our performance because we know that that is something the South Africans will be bringing after their loss to Australia. As well they have already stated they have a desire to get a win against us."
"After two wonderful matches last year, I know our guys are really looking forward to this match. We have the utmost respect for South Africa and looking forward to Saturday night."
Several players will reach personal milestones this weekend.
All Blacks prop Owen Franks will become the third most capped All Blacks prop of all time: he has played 60 Tests and is currently equal with Craig Dowd, with Greg Somerville second on 66 and Tony Woodcock out in front on 110 Tests.
Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu will equal the record for a midfield partnership this weekend when they play their 55th Test together. Smith will also play his 80th Test this weekend, overtaking Ian Jones to become the 10th most capped All Black of all time. Nonu, who will play his 94th Test this weekend, is the sixth most capped All Black.
Meanwhile, Aaron Cruden heads into the weekend on 99 points scored in the Investec Rugby Championship.
The All Blacks and South Africa have played each other 87 times, with 50 wins to the All Blacks, 34 to the Springboks and three draws. The last two matches between the two sides in last year's Investec Rugby Championship saw the All Blacks win 29-15 in Auckland and the epic Johannesburg Test 38-27.
The Investec Rugby Championship - All Blacks Tests
1. Australia, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Saturday 16 August. All Blacks 12 Australia 12
2. Australia, Eden Park, Auckland, Saturday 23 August. All Blacks 51 Australia 20
3. Argentina, McLean Park, Napier, Saturday 6 September. All Blacks 28 Argentina 9 4. South Africa (Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 7.35PM, Saturday 13 September)
5. Argentina (Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, La Plata, 7.10PM, Sat 27 September)
6. South Africa (Ellis Park, Johannesburg, 5.05PM, Saturday 4 October)
For further information contact:
All Blacks Media Manager
M: +64 (0)27 441 8461
Senior Media Advisor
D: +64 (0)4 474 7276
M: +64 (0)27 570 70 45
After much speculation in the media the Highlanders are happy to announce today that Aaron Smith has re-signed with the Highlanders for two more years through to the end of the Super Rugby season in 2016.
Smith said “I love living and playing rugby in Dunedin, it’s my home and I couldn’t think of a better place to be. I love the team and can’t wait to get back out on the field in front of our home fans in 2015”. Smith has been in outstanding form all year and is considered by many to be one of the best halfbacks in the world today and played an important part in helping the Highlanders get into the play-offs for the first time in 12 years.
Highlanders General Manager, Roger Clark, commented, “there has been a lot of speculation over the past weeks regarding Aaron’s future. I want to emphasise that Aaron has been fully committed to the Highlanders from the beginning of our negotiations and did not considered another Super Rugby Team at any stage. The reason the NZR and Highlanders’ announcements of Aaron recommitting didn’t coincide was due purely to the process the Highlanders needed to go through internally for sign off. It is great to be able to officially confirm Aaron will be a Highlander for the two years, we have made great progress as a team this past season and as a senior player Aaron is vital to the continuation of that success.”
Check out the link to see Aaron Smith announcing his re-signing; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wYYIC1pOjw
Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to take on the Sharks in Durban on Saturday night (3.05am Sunday 20th July NZT) in the Investec Super Rugby playoffs. This will be the Highlanders’ second visit to the shark tank for 2014 and the team will be hoping to produce another stellar performance like the round 11 match-up that saw the Highlanders’ win 34-18.
Co-Captain, Ben Smith, returns to the starting line-up after illness saw him miss the final regular season clash against the Crusaders in Christchurch last weekend. There are two changes to the forward pack; Ged Robinson to start at number 2 and Jarrad Hoeata at 4 (Hoeata travelled from Dunedin on Sunday to join the team in Auckland before they flew out to Sydney) which sees Tom Franklin move to the bench. In the backline Lima Sopoaga has been recalled to the playmaker position of first-five and will be partnering with Phil Burleigh at second-five. Trent Renata moves back to the bench as utility cover.
The Highlanders have had a tough road to the play-offs after playing the top two teams in the competition in consecutive weeks on the road but are feeling good and looking forward to their first play-off game since 2002.
Sharks v Highlanders, Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban – Saturday 19th July, 5.05pm local time (3.05am NZT, 1.05am AEST)
1 - Kane Hames
2 - Ged Robinson
3 - Chris King
4 - Jarrad Hoeata
5 - Joe Wheeler
6 - Elliot Dixon
7 - Shane Christie
8 - Nasi Manu (Co-Captain)
9 - Aaron Smith
10 - Lima Sopoaga
11 - Patrick Osborne
12 - Phil Burleigh
13 - Malakai Fekitoa
14 - Richard Buckman
15 - Ben Smith (Co-Captain)
16 - Liam Coltman
17 - Matias Diaz
18 - JP Koen
19 - Josh Bekhuis
20 - Tom Franklin
21 - Fumiaki Tanaka
22 - Trent Renata
23 - Gareth Evans
Head Coach – Jamie Joseph Assistant Coaches – Tony Brown and Scott McLeod Skills Coach – Jon Preston
Manager – Graham Purvis
For further information contact: Amanda Gould 021 223 8440.