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Highlanders sign experience and excitement

The Highlanders have announced three more signings this week. Experienced Tasman Lock Alex Ainley, competition leading point’s scorer Marty Banks and explosive Taranaki winger Waisake Naholo. Ainley has had a strong season with the Makos after returning to ITM Cup rugby in 2013 after three seasons with the Mitsubishi Dynabours in Japan. Ainley is a hardworking lock who has been in the engine room of a successful forward pack this season.

Head Coach, Jamie Joseph added that the Highlanders coaching team were looking for players “who could contribute to the environment as well as on the field. All these guys have great character and will add value to the team. Ainley’s experience and uncompromising play will be a great asset up front and Naholo and Banks will help round out backline stocks.”

Ainley and Banks will also join Makos teammates Shane Christie, Joe Wheeler and previously announced Ross Geldenhuys. Banks comes in as a first-five with a solid boot and 145 points so far in the ITM Cup. Naholo has also had a standout ITM cup season, making over 700 metres and scoring some highlight-reel worthy tries. Naholo has been released from his contract with the Blues to head South to the Highlanders next season.

The final selections will be released on Wednesday 29th October when full squads are announced for the 2015 Investec Super Rugby season.


 Alex Ainley  

Alex Ainley
16/07/1981 (age 33)
1.97m, 108.5kg
ITM Cup: Tasman (61 Caps)
Other teams: Mitsubishi Dynaboars (Japan 2010 – 2012)

 Marty Banks  

Marty Banks
19/09/1989 (age 20)
First five-eighth
1.91m, 91kg
ITM Cup: Tasman (29 caps)
Other teams: Crusaders development team (2013), Hurricanes (2014)

 Waisake Naholo  

Waisake Naholo
08/05/1991 (age 23)
1.86m, 96kg
ITM Cup: Taranaki (29 Caps)
Other teams: New Zealand Sevens, Hurricanes (2012), Blues (2013-14)


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”.




Brendon Edmonds
28/11/1990 (age 23)
1.83m, 119kg
ITM Cup: Hawkes Bay (31 caps)
Other teams: Hurricanes (2014)

“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



Ross Geldenhuys
19/04/1983 (age 31)
1.88m, 120kg
ITM Cup: Tasman (7 caps)
Other teams: Eastern Province Kings (Currie Cup)“

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




Dan Pryor
14/04/1988 (age 26)
Loose Forward 
1.90m, 104kg
ITM Cup: Northland (43 caps)
Other teams: Blues (2012)

“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



Ash Dixon
01/09/1988 (age 26)
1.82m, 103kg
ITM Cup: Hawkes Bay (49 caps)
Other teams: Hurricanes (2013-2014) 
Maori All Blacks (2014)

“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




Mark Reddish
03/03/1985 (age 29)
1.96m, 112kg
ITM Cup: Wellington (51 caps)
Other teams: Hurricanes (2011-14)

“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





Pingi Tala’apitaga
24/02/1987 (age 27) 
1.87m, 120kg
ITM Cup: Bay of Plenty (24 caps)

“I’m pumped to be heading down south to contribute to what is already a hardworking and confrontational forward pack” – Tala’apitaga


Josh Hohneck
06/02/1986 (age 28)
1.90m, 118kg
ITM Cup: Waikato (17 Caps)
Other teams: Chiefs (2012-14)

“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


highlanders v crusaders 0085


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.

Season tickets are on sale now, if you would like to get in a secure your seat by becoming a member in 2015 please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

2015 Draw