Highlanders name team for ANZAC Weekend Round clash

24 April 2024

The Highlanders are calling on experience for an important showdown this weekend as they prepare to face off against the Western Force in the inaugural Super Rugby Pacific ANZAC Weekend Round. Following a challenging outing in Australia, where they were unable to secure any competition points against the Reds or the Rebels, the Highlanders will welcome an opportunity to get things back on track in front of their home support on Saturday night.


Highlanders Head Coach Clarke Dermody expressed, “We’re working hard to take the learnings from each of our matches forward to the next game. We have focussed on getting our fundamentals right, ensuring our set-piece is sound and our collective mindset on track.”


The team has been bolstered by the return of several key players, collectively holding over 140 Super Rugby appearances between them. Notably, physical loose forward Hugh Renton and experienced front rower Jermaine Ainsley are welcomed back from injury into reserve positions where they will be eager to make an impact from while rangy lock, Fabian Holland, returns from concussion protocols to start at lock partnering with 37-cap Super Rugby player, Mitch Dunshea, who is set to make his Highlanders debut after recovering from Achilles injury sustained during the 2023 NPC.


Welshman Rhys Patchell returns at first five-eighth, reforming his partnership with Folau Fakatava which proved fruitful in the early rounds of Super Rugby. Meanwhile, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens resumes his role at fullback, and the explosive youngster Jake Te Hiwi is slated to make his first appearance of 2024 – his third for the Highlanders – at second-five, stepping in for the industrious Sam Gilbert, who has played in every minute of gameplay thus far this season.



Highlanders v Western Force – 7:05pm, Saturday 27th April, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

  1. Ethan de Groot
  2. Henry Bell
  3. Saula Ma’u
  4. Mitch Dunshea
  5. Fabian Holland
  6. Oliver Haig
  7. Sean Withy
  8. Billy Harmon (C)
  9. Folau Fakatava
  10. Rhys Patchell
  11. Connor Garden-Bachop
  12. Jake Te Hiwi
  13. Tanielu Tele’a
  14. Timoci Tavatavanawai
  15. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens


  1. Jack Taylor
  2. Daniel Lienert-Brown
  3. Jermaine Ainsley
  4. Will Tucker
  5. Hugh Renton
  6. James Arscott
  7. Cameron Millar
  8. Martín Bogado


Injured/unavailable: Jonah Lowe (knee), Jona Nareki (hamstring)


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