Highlanders name team for Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy clash

15 May 2024

This weekend’s clash against the Blues in Auckland will not only be round 13 of the DHL Super Rugby Pacific competition but also present an opportunity for the Highlanders to play for the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy. 

Gordon Hunter coached teams from both Highlanders and Blues rugby clubs. Hunter was the Highlander’s inaugural coach in 1996 after building a strong reputation coaching Otago and following a move to Auckland in early 2000, he became the Blues coach for that year.

In 2002 Hunter sadly passed away after a battle with cancer and the two teams have been competing for the trophy since 2002. It is played for once per season at the home game of the current holder.

Highlanders Head of Rugby, Jamie Joseph, who was coached by Hunter, stressed the importance this trophy has to the team, “Gordie was a really special coach, and he had the ability to motivate his players like no other coach I’ve met. We have been talking about Gordie this week in the team and they feel honoured to be able to play for him this weekend. He belongs back home in Dunedin.”

Hunter’s style of game was unique to New Zealand at the time and was built around speed and skill which has influenced the Highlanders' style of play over the years.

The team that will play for the trophy this weekend is unchanged from the round 12 team that played the Crusaders last weekend. Reserve prop, Ayden Johnstone, will play his 50th game for the Highlanders this weekend when he joins the game from the bench.


Head Coach, Clarke Dermody, added, “We were happy with how the team executed the plan last week and they have all retained their spots, but this is a new week and a new challenge, we’ve reset and are working hard in getting our preparation right for this weekend.”


Highlanders v Blues – 7:05pm, Saturday 18th May, Eden Park, Auckland

  1. Ethan de Groot (c)
  2. Henry Bell
  3. Jermaine Ainsley
  4. Mitch Dunshea
  5. Fabian Holland
  6. Oliver Haig
  7. Sean Withy
  8. Nikora Broughton
  9. Folau Fakatava
  10. Cameron Millar
  11. Martín Bogado
  12. Jake Te Hiwi
  13. Tanielu Tele’a
  14. Timoci Tavatavanawai
  15. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens


  1. Jack Taylor
  2. Ayden Johnstone
  3. Saula Ma’u
  4. Will Tucker
  5. Will Stodart
  6. James Arscott
  7. Sam Gilbert
  8. Finn Hurley

Injured/unavailable: Jonah Lowe (knee), Hugh Renton (ankle), Rhys Patchell (pec), Jona Nareki (hamstring), Matt Whaanga (shoulder), Ricky Jackson (hamstring), Billy Harmon (hand), Connor Garden-Bachop (HIA), Josh Timu (ankle)


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