New era for Highlanders

Michael Collins. Photo: ODT files
Michael Collins. Photo: ODT files
There's a batch of new faces in the Highlanders for next year as the Super Rugby franchise starts a new era.

The side has lost a large group of experienced players to overseas clubs, which is normal after a World Cup.

There are 14 new players in the squad, from Tongan loose forward Zane Kapeli to Otago fullback Michael Collins.

Hooker Ash Dixon returns, while exciting Wellington loose forward Teariki Ben-Nicholas is included.

All five of the New Zealand Super Rugby sides were named at 8.30pm today.

No fewer than 46 'rookies', defined as those players who have signed their first full-time Super Rugby contracts, are among the 195 players contracted to the Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders and Hurricanes for the 2020 season.

There are also nine international players with all five clubs fielding at least one, seven sets of siblings, and 11 players whose fathers also played Super Rugby.

Lock Cullen Grace at the Crusaders will be the youngest player at 19 years old, while Hurricanes prop Ben May will be the oldest, at 37.

All Black Beauden Barrett is to play for the Blues this year, but has clauses written into his contract, including an agreement to arrive late next season, AAP reports.

Fellow All Blacks Sam Whitelock (Crusaders) and Brodie Retallick (Chiefs) will sit out the 2020 season, their contracts allowing them short stints playing in Japan.

The 2020 Super Rugby season officially kicks off on January 31.

Zane Kapeli, who plays for Tonga, will join the Highlanders for 2020. Photo: Getty Images
Zane Kapeli, who plays for Tonga, will join the Highlanders for 2020. Photo: Getty Images

  • The full squads are (with Super Rugby caps):


Hookers: Liam Coltman (101), Ash Dixon (87), Ricky Jackson (1).

Props: Ethan De Groot (*), Josh Iosefa-Scott (1), Ayden Johnstone (15), Daniel Lienert-Brown (74), Jeff Thwaites (11), Siate Tokolahi (67).

Locks: Josh Dickson (17), Pari Pari Parkinson (7), Manaaki Selby-Rickit (*), Jack Whetton (9).

Loose forwards: Teariki Ben-Nicholas (*), Shannon Frizell (27), Dillon Hunt (31), Zane Kapeli (*), James Lentjes (35), Marino Mikaele-tu'u (7), Sione Misiloi (*), Jesse Parete (24).

Halfbacks: Folau Fakatava (3), Kayne Hammington (42), Aaron Smith (137).

First five-eighths: Bryn Gatland (20), Mitchell Hunt (43), Joshua Ioane (22).

Midfielders: Michael Collins (29), Ngane Punivai (2), Rob Thompson (50), Patelesio Tomkinson (21), Teihorangi Walden (34).

Outside backs: Connor Garden-Bachop (*), Scott Gregory (*), Karisi Kuridrani (*), Josh McKay (6), Tevita Nabura (3), Jona Nareki (*), Thomas Umaga-Jensen (7).

Sevu Reese. Photo: NZ Herald
Sevu Reese. Photo: NZ Herald


Hookers: Andrew Makalio (33), Brodie McAlister (*), Codie Taylor (77).

Props: Michael Alaalatoa (69), Harry Allan (12), George Bower (10), Oliver Jager (15), Joe Moody (82), Isileli Tuungafasi (4).

Locks: Scott Barrett (68), Mitchell Dunshea (9), Luke Romano (123), Quinten Strange (25).

Loose forwards: Ethan Blackadder (7), Tom Christie (*), Whetukamokamo Douglas (22), Cullen Grace (*), Billy Harmon (8), Sione Havili (*), Ethan Roots (*), Tom Sanders (28).

Halfbacks: Mitchell Drummond (79), Ereatara Enari (5), Bryn Hall (84).

First five-eighths: Fergus Burke (*), Brett Cameron (6), Richie Mo'unga (57).

Midfielders: Braydon Ennor (25), Jack Goodhue (44), Dallas McLeod (*).

Outside backs: George Bridge (49), Leicester Faingaanuku (1), David Havili (75), Inga Finau (*), Will Jordan (9), Manasa Mataele (23), Fetuli Paea (*), Sevu Reece (14).

Ardie Savea (centre). Photo: Getty Images
Ardie Savea (centre). Photo: Getty Images


Hookers: Asafo Aumua (15), Dane Coles (110), Ricky Riccitelli (56).

Props: Fraser Armstrong (22), Alex Fidow (4), Tyrel Lomax (30), Ben May (124), Xavier Numia (9), Pouri Rakete-Stones (*).

Locks: James Blackwell (23), Devan Flanders (*), Kane Leaupepe (10), Liam Mitchell (12), Scott Scrafton (22), Isaia Walker-Leawere (18).

Loose forwards: Gareth Evans (67), Vaea Fifita (57), Du'Plessis Kirifi (15), Reed Prinsep (44), Ardie Savea (91), Murphy Taramai (*).

Halfbacks: Jamie Booth (11), TJ Perenara (127), Jonathan Taumateine (10).

First five-eighths: Jackson Garden-Bachop (20), James Marshall (53), Fletcher Smith (22).

Midfielders: Vince Aso (44), Jordie Barrett (48), Ngani Laumape (60), Jonah Lowe (3), Billy Proctor (1), Danny Toala (2), Peter Umaga-Jensen (5), Kobus Van Wyk (*).

Outside backs: Wes Goosen (37), Ben Lam (38), Salesi Rayasi (5), Chase Tiatia (11).

Aaron Cruden has signed a one-year deal with the Chiefs. Photo: Getty Images
Aaron Cruden has signed a one-year deal with the Chiefs. Photo: Getty Images


Hookers: Nathan Harris (58), Bradley Slater (2), Samisoni Taukei'aho (22).

Props: Ryan Coxon (4), Nepo Laulala (64), Atu Moli (36), Reuben O'Neill (*), Aidan Ross (24), Angus Ta'avao (79).

Locks: Naitoa Ah Kuoi (*), Tyler Ardron (26), Michael Allardice (40), Laghlan McWhannell (*).

Loose forwards: Lachlan Boshier (42), Mitchell Brown (31), Sam Cane (111), Pita Gus Sowakula (15), Luke Jacobson (21), Mitchell Karpik (19), Dylan Nel (*).

Halfbacks: Lisati Milo-Harris (*), Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (42), Brad Weber (71).

First five-eighths: Aaron Cruden (114), Tiaan Falcon (3), Damian McKenzie (72), Kaleb Trask (*).

Midfielders: Orbyn Leger (9), Anton Lienert-Brown (68), Tumua Manu (20), Alex Nankivell (21), Bailyn Sullivan (5).

Outside backs: Solomon Alaimalo (37), Sam McNicol (12), Kini Naholo (*), Etene Nanai-Seturo (11), Shaun Stevenson (33), Quinn Tupaea (*), Sean Wainui (35).

Beauden Barrett makes the move from the Hurricanes to the Blues. Photo: Getty Images
Beauden Barrett makes the move from the Hurricanes to the Blues. Photo: Getty Images


Hookers: Kurt Eklund (*), Ray Niuia (1), James Parsons (105).

Props: Alex Hodgman (33), Ezekiel Lindenmuth (2), Sione Mafileo (41), Marcel Renata (8), Karl Tu'inukuafe (26), Ofa Tuungafasi (79).

Locks: Gerard Cowley-Tuioti (43), Josh Goodhue (18), Jacob Pierce (2), Patrick Tuipulotu (67), Baden Wardlaw (*).

Loose forwards: Blake Gibson (40), Akira Ioane (64), Tony Lamborn (4), Dalton Papalii (21), Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa (*), Tom Robinson (15), Hoskins Sotutu (1), James Tucker (*).

Halfbacks: Finlay Christie (15), Sam Nock (22), Jonathan Ruru (27).

First five-eighths: Beauden Barrett (125), Otere Black (36), Jack Heighton (*), Stephen Perofeta (15), Harry Plummer (16).

Midfielders: TJ Faiane (30), Rieko Ioane (48), Joe Marchant (*), Tanielu Tele'a (9).

Outside backs: Caleb Clarke (13), Matt Duffie (41), Jordan Hyland (7), Emoni Narawa (*), Jared Page (*), Mark Telea (*).

- additional reporting NZ Herald and AAP

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