Highlanders 2019 Discussion

  • I think I heard one of the commentators mention that Pleasants-Tate was leaving the Highlanders? No specifics so it could be overseas or another franchise

  • @duluth Interesting. I think that one of the commentators (Scotty Stevenson) recently said that "he loves it down there".

  • @tim

    It's possible I heard it wrong.. It was in a list of players who were playing their last game at home

  • Thanks @Stargazer for making these lists. It's hard to keep track of what is and isn't official yet

  • From your list the glaring issue is a five-eighth. The forwards are competent grafters (largely). But the depth is a problem across the board.

  • @antipodean Gatland will probably do alright in that structure.

    The issue is whether the current coaches can perform at the Joseph/Brown level. The 40 points conceded per game at the end of the season suggest not.

  • @tim Perhaps they could snag the Blues defensive coach..!

  • @antipodean said in Highlanders 2019 Discussion:

    From your list the glaring issue is a five-eighth.

    Maybe they could get Hayden Parker back? He's had a few good moments for the Sunwolves this year

  • @duluth said in Highlanders 2019 Discussion:

    @antipodean said in Highlanders 2019 Discussion:

    From your list the glaring issue is a five-eighth.

    Maybe they could get Hayden Parker back? He's had a few good moments for the Sunwolves this year

    I wondered about that too. They seem to have somehow stalled Fletcher Smiths' development so may as well get an older guy back.

  • They should sign Tuiloma. He has fared OK this year despite limited opportunities when Tokolahi was not injured. His scrummaging has improved and he is always making the hard yards, thanks to his massive bulk.

  • Having a look around I hope the Highlanders lock in some talent long term, take it from under the nose of others.

    I would target a few HB talent. looking at how Hurricanes might be blocked by talent already there. Kereru-Symes, Fakatava, Flanders and even Farrell are long term prospects behind Coltman, Smith, Whitelock. Could be coup for them coming together and learning behind those players.

    Also Whetton I would target.

    Still worried about first 5, Gatland aint it sorry, not long term at super level. Is perofeta locked into Blues? I would try to snare him away.

  • @98blueandgold Flanders has already been signed by the Canes (for 3 years IIRC).

  • @98blueandgold Is Ioane not the answer either?

    I assume one of the reasons Smith came to Waikato was that he wouldn't have started much for Otago this season.

  • @stargazer Bastard!

  • @bovidae think he was just looking about as he was ready to sign on up here, not sure he had a preference at Super level though?

  • @bovidae No, Smith is playing the best of all of them but he is not a long term super rugby answer. It will only be a problem once Smith and Smith leave after the world cup, until that time the 10 will not need to be as dominant.

  • @98blueandgold From my observations at Canes pre season earlier this year, they will have Farrell locked up aswell.


  • @canes4life great photo

  • An article about the quest for the Highlanders to find a starting 10 with a look through Mitre 10 Cup 10s. It's fair to say the cupboard is pretty bare. I full expect the Highlanders are on a substantial hunt overseas, to either bring back a New Zealand player or find someone with a bit of experience to bring in for a year or two. The player I would be going after would be Tom Taylor, just a good steady player and can work in well with exciting outside. But I would say he's on big bikkies over in France, and it would be too hard to turn that money down.

    The Highlanders are on the hunt for a third first five-eighth and the Mitre 10 Cup is their hunting range. So can they catch a roaring stag or is it only runts that can be bagged in the national domestic competition?

    Rugby writer Steve Hepburn takes a look around the Mitre 10 Cup and sees if it is more rocks than diamonds.


    Jack Debreczeni

    Verdict: Not a bad player, runs reasonably well, good in the tackle and rugged enough.

    Chances of heading south: Slight. Born in New Zealand but lived most of life in Australia. Played for the Rebels last year but appears to be a free agent at the moment. He's an Australian really. Can they be trusted to pilot the Highlanders around the paddock?


    Harry Plummer

    Verdict: Promising player who looks to have a bit of time, nice goal-kicker

    Chances: Zero. Has signed for the Blues to be the 25th or so player to attempt to be the next Carlos Spencer. Good luck, Harry.

    North Harbour

    Bryn Gatland

    Verdict: Looks all right, has the fundamentals and good goal-kicker

    Chances: It is up to him. He is signed by the Highlanders after an average season with the Blues. Is a solid enough performer.


    Latiume Fosita

    Verdict: A solid operator who does most things right. Does not get the pulse racing.

    Chances: Likes to travel having played for three sides in New Zealand, in England and South Africa. Not up to Super Rugby class.


    Fletcher Smith

    Verdict: Started poorly at fullback but as Waikato has turned it around so has Smith as he donned the No10 jersey.

    Chances: A head-scratcher this one. Has looked a million dollars in the past couple of weeks and has been with the Highlanders for the past couple of years so maybe could do the hat-trick. A real confidence player.

    Bay of Plenty

    Mike Delany

    Verdict: How old is he? Forty-five? Delany is actually 36 and still plays all right. Good goal-kicker, too.

    Chances: Was at the Crusaders last year and if he is still wanted there then will head back to Christchurch. Not a bad back-up but lacks real class.

    Hawke's Bay

    Tiaan Falcon

    Verdict: Another young player who is said to have some real talent. A bit hit-and-miss though.

    Chances: Locked in with the Chiefs for next year.


    Otere Black, Sam Malcolm

    Verdict: Black is just back from a horrific knee injury and looks class. Malcolm is a young guy who has probably reached his level.

    Chances: Black is with the Blues while Malcolm is not a goer.


    Stephen Perofeta, Ciarhan Matoe

    Verdict: Perofeta has some talent but may be slightly overrated. Ditto for Matoe.

    Chances: Perofeta is with the Blues while Matoe is too green.


    Jackson Garden-Bachop

    Verdict: Has improved over the past 18 months but has the advantage of playing behind a top pack.

    Chances: Signed with the Hurricanes.


    Mitch Hunt, Tim O'Malley

    Verdict: Hunt is growing in skill and is a quality player while O'Malley looks good in everything he does.

    Chances: Hunt is with the Crusaders and O'Malley, originally from Maniototo, is just starting out.


    Brett Cameron

    Verdict: Looks to have time and poise though it is easy behind a big pack

    Chances: Cameron is likely to be one of the 600 players the Crusaders and Canterbury stockpile every year.


    Josh Ioane

    Verdict: On the improve and a good runner.

    Chances: Locked in at the Highlanders next year and has some class.


    James Wilson

    Verdict: Closer to 40 than 30, still has some talent

    Chances: Not the worst player one could sign. But best years well behind him.

    Overall verdict

    It is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Looking for whitebait on the first day of the season. Let's be honest - there is not a lot out there. The Highlanders may just have to go with someone like Fletcher Smith, someone they know.

    Anyone with any experience is playing overseas on big money. And their best years are long gone.

  • One player not mentioned with Taranaki is Marty McKenzie. I would describe him as flakey but he does have some experience, and filled a similar role with the Chiefs. From Southland too.

    As I've said previously, I hope the Chiefs go for Smith over MMac.

    There is also Kaleb Trask from BOP.

  • I'll give the less talented Mac a hard pass for being our 10 of choice next year.

  • @southernmann I thought you are looking for the no.3 1st 5?

  • Pretty sure they are after an experienced 10, Gatland and Ioane are both being seen as project players.

  • @southernmann I wouldn't call Gatland a project player. To me he's the favourite to start. He's played 30 odd Mitre 10 Cup games (this is his 3rd year as the starting Harbour 10) and 15 odd Super games.

  • @KiwiMurph
    I would say that Gatland has been signed with the franchise viewing him as the likely primary back-up to the mystery player.

    Roger Clark pretty much said as much when we signed Gatland in May.

    Clark admitted the type of experienced first five-eighth they want does not grow on trees.

    ''We have a talented team which is capable of winning championships so we need an experienced guy who can steer the team round the paddock,'' he said.

    ''He can teach the young guys and bring them along.''

    The franchise had until the end of October to announce the player and Clark said they were working through the process.

  • @southernmann my reading of that is that Gatland is the experienced guy he is talking about. Gatland has lead Harbour to winning the Mitre 10 Champioship (2 years ago) and lead Harbour to the semi finals of the Premiership last year.

  • Outside of Delany you won't find an experienced, non-contracted 1st 5 in the M10 Cup. It's a development competition now.

  • @kiwimurph With two players signed (Gatland and Ioane), Roger Clark said in the article about Gatland signing.

    we are still after an experienced player.... Those players don't grow on trees.

    Gatland isn't the experienced player. He is the fall back 10 if they can't source an experienced player from overseas.

  • "Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark said the Highlanders now had Josh Ioane and Gatland on their books as first five-eighths and were still looking round for an experienced No 10."

    Statement points towards wanting a starting player.

  • @southernmann I see. Fair enough. I reckon an 'experienced' 10 is overrated anyway. That's how you end up with a Chris Noakes as your 10. Especially in the Highlanders case when you are slotting into an well oiled machine backline wise anyway.

  • @kiwimurph That's why I think they are being very picky about who they may bring on-board. I believe they are quite keen to get someone with high level experience who can use the tools outside him well. But they do have the fallback option of Gatland, who is a bit lacking in all round skills. But he can still distribute and allow his outsides to do their jobs.

  • @southernmann Tom Taylor wouldnt be available for the 2019 season anyway (still under contract). If he's a free agent during the SR season, they should try to get Hayden Parker back, who had a great season with the Sunwolves last year (one of their best players). He's signed for the Japanese Top League though, so would miss the beginning of pre-season.

  • Surprisingly Ben Botica was awarded T14 player of the year this week, and his team is now in the 2nd division.

    Is he actually good? Able to play fast and flat enough for Super Rugby?

  • @tim No! Is a typical NZ guy who goes to France/Europe and can play their style well (kick goals) but really does not offer much else. stay away please Highlanders. Hate to say it but Cooper???? just for a season or two until can figure out next best option.

  • Is Toeava off contract?

  • Bones said:

    Is Toeava off contract?

    Nope. Under contract (Clermont) until June 2020.

  • @98blueandgold
    the word is Quade is Rebels bound. Can't see the Highlanders being able to compete financially for him anyway.

  • NZR won't be willing to spend big bucks on a non-NZer.

  • Bovidae said:

    NZR won't be willing to spend big bucks on a non-NZer.

    Particularly a flakey one.

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