1 February 2024

For the second year in a row, the Highlanders will play Moana Pasifika in a pre-season fixture in Queenstown thanks to Bayleys and they are moving closer to the Remarkables this year with a venue shift to Field 2 at the Queenstown Event Centre.

In a location with unrivalled scenery, there will also be plenty to look at on the field with the first Highlanders team of 2024. In addition to the starting XV Highlanders Head Coach, Clarke Dermody, has also named an additional 14 impact players.

“We’ve named 15 players who are going to get an opportunity on Friday night to prove themselves and essentially another 15, who will be trying to do the same thing when they get their chance on the field.

This is an opportunity for us to put into action the changes to our game from 2023, see how new combinations work and how the pre-season hard work translates on the field for each player,” commented Dermody.

Of the 29 players named, six of the starting team and six of the reserves will be pulling on the Highlanders jersey for the first time including Welsh international, Rhys Patchell and ex-Blues outside back, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens. (Bell, Ryall, Patchell, J. Whaanga, Tele’a, Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, Tukuafu, Plummer, Michaels, Stoddart and Latu).

In what will be a proud moment in the Whaanga household, brothers Matt and Josh will also get the opportunity to play together in Highlanders colours. Talented youngster Josh is on a National Development Contract while older brother Matt secured a full contract off the back of valued contributions in 2023 as an injury replacement.

When asked how he was feeling about both Josh and himself being named, Matt commented, “first and foremost I’m stoked to be here, but I’m also stoked to have the chance to play alongside my brother, it’s a great opportunity for both of us and we’re looking forward to putting our best out there on the field on Friday night.”

The Highlanders have been in Central Otago since Sunday night leading into Friday’s game.

“We’ve had a busy week training around the region, meeting some great people and experiencing some true Southern hospitality and Friday night’s game in Queenstown is the perfect way to sign off our time up here,” said Dermody.

Highlanders v Moana Pasifika
6pm, Friday 2
nd February, Queenstown Event Centre (Field 2)

  1. Rohan Wingham

  2. Henry Bell

  3. Saula Ma’u

  4. Pari Pari Parkinson

  5. Max Hicks

  6. Oliver Haig

  7. Sean Withy (c)

  8. Blair Ryall

  9. Folau Fakatava

  10. Rhys Patchell

  11. Josh Whaanga

  12. Matt Whaanga

  13. Tanielu Tele’a

  14. Jonah Lowe

  15. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens

Reserves: Solomone Tukuafu, Jack Taylor, Jermaine Ainsley, Hugo Plummer, Billy Harmon, Hayden Michaels, Will Stodart, James Arscott, Cameron Millar, Jona Nareki, Sam Gilbert, Tevita Latu, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Martín Bogado

The Highlanders play Moana Pasifika at 6pm on Friday 2nd February, Field 2, Queenstown Event Centre. Tickets are available online from Ticketek.co.nz/highlanders (Adults $30/Secondary School $10/ U13 Free thanks to Bayleys). Parking available on the backfield (access off Grants Road - $5 donation to the Lions Club).



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