Rejuvenating the roster on to-do list

One of the big keys for the Highlanders — well the main one really — is to get some new and better players.

Installing Tony Brown as head coach is a big help in that regard.

Super Rugby is not like most professional sports where money is the big driver for players to move.

Players in New Zealand go to teams where they have a good chance of winning, admire the coach and know they are a step nearer the All Blacks.

Brown is well liked by players, so that in itself should draw some this way.

The Highlanders have two current All Blacks — the lowest of any Super Rugby franchise — but are unlikely to get any more for next season.

The side needs a big strong outside back and an exciting midfielder. Liam Squire is said to be back and looking for a Super Rugby team, but there is plenty of water to go under the bridge before that becomes a reality. Prop Josh Hohneck could be a good signing. Winger Patrick Osborne is playing for Waikato, but his time is gone.

Julian Savea, perhaps?

Brown said the side has signed some new players and they would be named in the coming weeks.

"We are looking to rebuild a team after losing a lot of quality players. [We are] Almost there in terms of personnel. It’s now about getting the most out of them and develop[ing] a style in how we play.

"I think you would like to get there sooner rather than later. I feel as though if we can have a good pre-season and build on what we did in the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition then we will be competitive and not be too far away from the other teams.

"The other four teams in New Zealand are super competitive. They have most of the all Blacks in their sides. They are quality players, but I love the Highlanders and if we can create an environment where everyone is going in the same direction I feel we can challenge those teams on a weekly basis."

Brown was looking forward to January when he could get hold of the players.

"We’ve always had a team down here, always under rated. But if we get the environment right and get the culture right we are as good as anyone in the competition. That is the challenge."

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