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A strong ball runner, tackler and a with a bullseye accurate lineout toss, Taylor should provide the Highlanders with much needed depth at hooker.
People may remember his game-winning try against the Crusaders U20 squad. Here’s hoping he can bring a similar impact to the team this season
Ethan de Groot
Fresh off a stint at the Rugby World Cup, where he displayed the dominant scrummaging and knack to carry over the gain line that we all love, everyone’s hoping he can carry that form into the Super Rugby campaign. He should front a sizable forward pack that will most likely feature tighthead prop Jermaine Ainsley as his propping partner. For de Groot it all comes down to good old-fashioned hard work, of which he can provide plenty of. Expect him to miss a couple of games due to scheduled All Black rests.
The rookie from Gore High School will be hoping to make an impact this season. He has played for the Stags in the past couple of years where he has impressed on the openside flank.
With players like Billy Harmon, Hugh Renton, Sean Withy and Nikora Broughton all gunning for a starting position, we shouldn’t expect to see much of Michaels at the start of the season. As the season progresses, you would hope he gets the chance to show himself on the field.
If the form from his eight games for the Stags in 2023 carry over and he displays dominance at the breakdown and hearty ball carries, he should get a crack.
Millar’s past Super Rugby and NPC seasons were cut short due to an ankle injuries. Hopefully they are behind him now and we can see consistent playing time from the fly-half.
Millar could provide the Highlanders with the presence they have desperately needed at the position since the departure of Lima Sopoaga. A boot that can control the game and his brilliant natural instinct will prove extremely valuable.
The signing of former Welsh International Rhys Patchell should provide lots of learning opportunities.
Competition with Ajay Faleafaga for playing time should prove an interesting storyline.
You could make the argument to slot Millar at fullback, similar to how Mitch Hunt was placed there, but only time will tell.