The Highlanders have today announced an experienced squad to play the 2019 Super Rugby season.
Just seven new caps amongst the 38 man squad with five of those in the forwards. Hooker Ray Niuia from Tasman will be joined by Waikato props Ayden Johnstone and Josh Iosefa-Scott, both had standout seasons for the Championship winning Waikato team. Former Wallaby squad member and Reds prop Sef Fa’agase has returned from Australia and after a good Mitre 10 season with Canterbury and will look to build a future with the Highlanders.
The Premiership winning Auckland side supply lock Jack Whetton (son of former All Black Gary Whetton) while in the backs Bryn Gatland who played for the Blues in 2018 makes his way South. He will be joined by rookie 19 year old halfback Folau Fakatava from Hawkes Bay.
Head Coach Aaron Mauger is excited by the group he has assembled “We have a well-balanced side with a degree of experience there, we blooded ten new players last season and I was excited to see the growth in those players during the Mitre 10 competition. The initial focus as always will be to execute a good pre-season and bring the team together for what will undoubtedly be another exciting challenge for the 2019 squad.”
Hookers: Liam Coltman, Ash Dixon, Ray Niuia*
Props: Daniel Lienert-Brown, Josh Iosefa-Scott*, Ayden Johnstone *, Siate Tokolahi, Tyrel Lomax, Sef Fa’agase*
Locks: Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Paripari Parkinson, Josh Dickson, Jack Whetton*
Loosies: Luke Whitelock, Liam Squire, James Lentjes, Dillon Hunt, Marino Mikaele Tu’u, Shannon Frizell, Elliot Dixon
Halfbacks: Aaron Smith, Kayne Hammington, Folau Fakatava*
First-Fives: Bryn Gatland*, Josh Ioane, Marty Banks
Midfielders: Rob Thompson, Patelesio Tomkinson, Teihorangi Walden, Richard Buckman, Matt Faddes, Thomas Umaga-Jensen
Outside Backs: Waisake Naholo, Tevita Li, Tevita Nabura , Josh McKay , Ben Smith
Unavailable due to long term injury: Aki Seiuli, Kalolo Tuiloma
*Debut season for Highlanders in 2019