Tanaka to rejoin the Highlanders for another season
The Highlanders are pleased to announce Japanese international, Fumiaki Tanaka, will be returning to play for the Highlanders for the 2015 season. Tanaka’s signing will see him return to Dunedin for his third consecutive Super Rugby season.
Highlanders Assistant Coach, Tony Brown, commented, “It's great to have Fumi back with the Highlanders, he is a quality halfback who plays with outstanding skill and speed. He loves playing for the Highlanders and is a great team man with a big heart.”
Tanaka has played 26 games for the Highlanders since debuting in 2013 as the first Japanese player to play Super Rugby in New Zealand. Tanaka has become a local favourite playing for Otago in the 2012 and 2013 ITM Cup seasons before returning to Japan during the ITM cup this year to play for his Japanese club, Panasonic.
When asked about his return for the 2015 season Tanaka said, “I am very excited to be back playing for the Highlanders, I have big passion for the team and Dunedin. Super rugby is very tough but I enjoy the challenge of playing against the best teams and players”.
Over the past three years Tanaka and his family have made Dunedin home and will return to Dunedin in December for pre-season training.
Highlanders Bolster Forward Stocks for 2015
The Highlanders have announced the following players are to make the move south in 2015 to reinforce the forward pack. Props Edmonds, Geldenhuys, Hohneck and Tala’apitaga will provide much needed depth in the front after injuries and suspensions tested the Highlanders in 2014 while Dixon, Pryor and Reddish will come in with 143 games of ITM cup experience and seven seasons of Super Rugby between them.
Highlanders Head Coach, Jamie Joseph said “one of the learnings that came out of last season was the pressure we received at set piece in the final stages of the competition. We have selected players with that in mind and who we think can improve our team in that area. All players have a real desire to be part of the highlanders which is exciting for them and for us as we welcome them on board.”
General Manager, Roger Clark, added, “I’m really excited to see what the new recruits can bring to our environment. In saying that, we’ve still got a few positions to go and I know the coaches will be keeping a close eye on the second half of the ITM cup to finalise those last positions”.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to join the ‘Landers. I can’t wait to train and play for them, all I’ve heard from the Barracuda (Buckman) and GBalls (Evans) is how great the culture is down there” - Edmonds
The Highlanders play an awesome brand of rugby which also suits my game. Shane and Wheels speak very highly of the management and team culture down South. I’m like a little boy on his birthday, I can’t wait for the season to start”- Geldenhuys
“I’m excited more than anything. It’s all new territory for me but really keen to get down to Dunedin and be part of the ‘Landers set up. Got some awesome players and coaches - so can’t wait” - Pryor
“I'm really excited to be joining the Highlanders. I have heard great things about the environment and my wife and two children are looking forward to coming down South too. I'm grateful for the opportunity and looking forward to showing what value I can bring to the side”- Dixon
“It’s a move me and my family are really excited about and looking forward to exploring Highlanders country. I’m looking forward to joining the environment and adding something to it and the jersey when I get the opportunity”- Reddish
“I’m pumped to be heading down south to contribute to what is already a hardworking and confrontational forward pack” – Tala’apitaga
“I’m really excited about my move South to the Highlanders and the chance to further develop as a player. I’ve heard nothing but positive things about the environment and the ‘Landers style of play is right up my alley. I can’t wait.” - Hohneck
Highlanders To Kick Off 2015 Season in Timaru
Photo credit: Chris Sullivan/Seen in Dunedin - Highlanders v Crusaders , Forsyth Barr Stadium, 24 May 2014
The Highlanders will play their first pre-season game of 2015 in Timaru on 24th January. It will be a South Island derby against the Crusaders. Highlanders CEO Roger Clark said they are excited to be getting the 2015 season started with this
classic southern clash. “There is nothing our fans love more than a Highlanders vs Crusaders clash, and to have the game so close to home is a bonus. We also kick off the regular competition with a game against the Crusaders on 21 February, so the fierce but friendly rivalry between these teams will be in full flight in 2015,” Mr Clark said.
Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach said it is fitting that the game will be played halfway between the two teams’ home bases. “The Crusaders and Highlanders traditionally meet in the pre-season and it is always a fiercely contested and exciting game. Having the game in Timaru next year, which is within the Crusaders catchment area but very close to the Highlanders region, is great news for fans of both teams. We are hopeful that we will get a good turnout of both Crusaders and Highlanders fans to this game, which would be a great way to kick the season off,” Mr Riach said. “We are grateful to the South Canterbury Rugby Union for agreeing to host the game and we know from previous games that we’ve held in Timaru that they’ll do a fantastic job of it.”
South Canterbury RFU Chairman Brent Isbister said the Union is delighted to be bringing a pre-season game to Timaru.
The Highlanders play two additional pre-season games in Australia against the Brumbies and the Rebels before starting the 2015 Investec Super Rugby Season in Round 2 against the Crusaders at home on Saturday 21 February.
2015 Investec Super Rugby Draw Announced
The Highlanders start to the 2015 Super Rugby season in the second round due to a bye in round one. This will be the only time the fans and the team has to relax in this condensed Investec Super Rugby season where round robin games conclude on Saturday 13th June due to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The bye is followed with a block of six games; five of those being at home with the Crusaders first up, then Reds, Chiefs away and Waratahs, Hurricanes and Stormers at home at Forsyth Barr Stadium, and then well-earned rest in the form of a bye in week eight. The Highlanders will need to make the most of the bye as they head into the second half of the competition with 10 games on-the-trot, restarting with Crusaders at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
The ANZAC Centenary celebrations will take place during round 11 when the Highlanders play the Brumbies in the Australian capital, Canberra. They will then return to Dunedin to play the Sharks before heading to South Africa in round 13 to begin their South African tour; starting in Johannesburg against the Lions and then Bloemfontein to play the Cheetahs. The Highlanders stop in Perth to play the Force on their way back to New Zealand and then line against the Chiefs for their final home game. Due to FIFA under 20 World Cup commitments at Forsyth Barr Stadium this game will be played at an alternate venue still to be confirmed.
The Highlanders’ 2015 Super Rugby regular season finishes up with two New Zealand derbies against the Hurricanes and the Blues in Wellington and Auckland before the finals series begin. The Highlanders will be looking to build on an exciting 2014 season.
Smith & Smith retain starting positions for first South African test
Highlanders, Aaron Smith and Ben Smith, have been named in the starting XV to take on the Springboks in Wellington.
The All Blacks team to play South Africa in the highly-anticipated Investec Rugby Championship match in Wellington this weekend has been named.
The All Blacks will play South Africa for the first time this year at Westpac Stadium on Saturday 13 September (kick-off: 7.35PM NZT live on SKY TV).
The team is (with Test caps in brackets):
1. Wyatt Crockett (30)
2. Dane Coles (21)
3. Owen Franks (60)
4. Brodie Retallick (30)
5. Jeremy Thrush (6)
6. Steven Luatua (12)
7. Richie McCaw (c) (130)
8. Kieran Read (65)
9. Aaron Smith (32)
10. Aaron Cruden (34)
11. Julian Savea (25)
12. Ma'a Nonu (93)
13. Conrad Smith (79)
14. Ben Smith (32)
15. Israel Dagg (40)
16. Keven Mealamu (116)
17. Joe Moody (2)
18. Ben Franks (34)
19. Patrick Tuipulotu (2)
20. Sam Cane (17)
21. TJ Perenara (6)
22. Beauden Barrett (22)
23. Cory Jane (50)
The changes to the team which beat Argentina on the weekend are mainly injury-related, with Jeremy Thrush coming in at lock and Steven Luatua at blindside flanker for the injured Sam Whitelock and Liam Messam respectively, with Patrick Tuipulotu on the bench.
Meanwhile, Aaron Cruden has recovered from his chest injury to take his place in the number 10 jersey, with Beauden Barrett moving to the bench. Cory Jane also comes into the match day squad as outside back cover.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: "This week we have to find a desperation and hunger in our performance because we know that that is something the South Africans will be bringing after their loss to Australia. As well they have already stated they have a desire to get a win against us."
"After two wonderful matches last year, I know our guys are really looking forward to this match. We have the utmost respect for South Africa and looking forward to Saturday night."
Several players will reach personal milestones this weekend.
All Blacks prop Owen Franks will become the third most capped All Blacks prop of all time: he has played 60 Tests and is currently equal with Craig Dowd, with Greg Somerville second on 66 and Tony Woodcock out in front on 110 Tests.
Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu will equal the record for a midfield partnership this weekend when they play their 55th Test together. Smith will also play his 80th Test this weekend, overtaking Ian Jones to become the 10th most capped All Black of all time. Nonu, who will play his 94th Test this weekend, is the sixth most capped All Black.
Meanwhile, Aaron Cruden heads into the weekend on 99 points scored in the Investec Rugby Championship.
The All Blacks and South Africa have played each other 87 times, with 50 wins to the All Blacks, 34 to the Springboks and three draws. The last two matches between the two sides in last year's Investec Rugby Championship saw the All Blacks win 29-15 in Auckland and the epic Johannesburg Test 38-27.
The Investec Rugby Championship - All Blacks Tests
1. Australia, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Saturday 16 August. All Blacks 12 Australia 12
2. Australia, Eden Park, Auckland, Saturday 23 August. All Blacks 51 Australia 20
3. Argentina, McLean Park, Napier, Saturday 6 September. All Blacks 28 Argentina 9 4. South Africa (Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 7.35PM, Saturday 13 September)
5. Argentina (Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, La Plata, 7.10PM, Sat 27 September)
6. South Africa (Ellis Park, Johannesburg, 5.05PM, Saturday 4 October)
For further information contact:
All Blacks Media Manager
M: +64 (0)27 441 8461
Senior Media Advisor
D: +64 (0)4 474 7276
M: +64 (0)27 570 70 45