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Highlanders Name 2024 MVP at Annual Awards Evening

28 May 2024

The Highlanders 2024 annual awards evening, thanks to John Jones Steel, was held last night at the University of Otago Business School and was a night of celebration, especially for Highlanders’ winger, Timoci Tavatavanawai, who picked up four awards including the Pulse Energy Most Valuable Player.

Tavatavanawai has been a tremendous force on the wing for the Highlander’s this year and has consistently been a standout performer both on attack, and equally impressively – on defence. Tavatavanawai has consistently been one of the Highlanders’ best performers on the field and has started in all 13 games played, the only squad member to do so, playing an astounding 1027 minutes of rugby so far in 2024. He was awarded the Back of the Year, Defender of the Year and unsurprisingly, as a solid fan favourite all season – the 2024 Fan Player of the Year. Tavatavanawai is currently leading the Super Rugby competition in jackals (turnovers won at the tackle) which is a statistic normally won by loose forwards.

Other winners on the night were Forward of the Year, Billy Harmon, who has lead from the front again this season and put together some spectacular performances, garnering the respect of his fellow teammates who also voted Harmon the 2024 Speight’s Player’s Player of the Year for the second year running.

The University of Otago U20’s Most Valuable Player was Max Ratcliffe. Ratcliffe is a current member of the John Jones Steel High Performance Programme and had an outstanding tournament at the annual Super Rugby U20’s tournament in Taupō. Highlanders Rookie of the Year (player in their first year of a fulltime super rugby contract) went to Oliver Haig who is a graduate of the High Performance Programme and has looked at home in Super Rugby and the number six jersey.  Haig has played in the 10 most recent games, and after coming off the bench for the first three he has secured the starting jersey in the last seven.

Ethan de Groot was awarded the prestigious Highlander Man award. This award is bestowed to the person who best represents the values of the club and Highlanders CEO Roger Clark said de Groot was deserving recipient.

“Ethan is a genuine Highlander Man who not only gives to the Club on the field but also off it. He is integral to our team and is widely respected, and at only 25 years old he has achieved so much and still has many years ahead of him.”

As well as the on field and performance based awards the Highlanders also awarded their 2024 Community Champ to Hayden Michaels who completed the highest number of hours in the community during 2024. Michaels contributed to the impressive team total of over 1200 hours in the 2024 season. Ayden Johnstone was awarded the Player Personal Development Award for his work off their field in the Player Personal Development Programme and Nasi Manu was awarded the inaugural, Southern Inspiration Award, which is awarded to the person who best embodies the Club Purpose of Southern Inspiration.

The event was attended by 250 guests including sponsors, members, players and partners.



Community Champ

Hayden Michaels

Player Personal Development Award

Ayden Johnstone

Back of the year

Timoci Tavatavanawai

Forward of the year

Billy Harmon

Defender of the year

Timoci Tavatavanawai

Fan Player of the year

Timoci Tavatavanawai

Speights Player’s Player

Billy Harmon

Southern Inspiration Award

Nasi Manu

University of Otago U20s MVP

Max Ratcliffe 

Rookie of the Year

Oliver Haig

Pulse Energy Most Valuable Player

Timoci Tavatavanawai

Highlander Man

Ethan de Groot



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