Highlanders name team for inaugural Super Rugby Game in Tonga

Highlanders name team for inaugural Super Rugby Game in Tonga

he Highlanders are due to depart the cooler climes of their hometown, Dunedin, for the high twenties of Nuku’alofa for the inaugural Super Rugby Pacific fixture to be held in Tonga on Saturday afternoon.

This fixture is going to be an emotional homecoming for two Highlanders players, halfback Folau Fakatava and prop, Saula Ma’u – both of whom immigrated to New Zealand aged 15 and 16. For Ma’u this will only be the second time his parents have watched him play professionally and for both Fakatava and Ma’u the first time they have played professionally in their home country.

This weekend’s fixture is also of high importance to the Highlanders season as they compete to maintain their inclusion in the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific play offs.

Clarke Dermody, acknowledged this, during the Highlander’s team naming today, “If you look at our and Moana Pasifika’s position on the table its clearly an important game for both teams. It will be a special occasion, particularly for our Tongan players, and there will be some unique challenges around the game that we have included in our preparation this week.”  

The team is largely unchanged with the only two changes to the starting XV at loosehead prop and first-five; Daniel Lienert-Brown replaces Ethan de Groot (who is observing an All Black rest week) and Cameron Millar for Rhys Patchell. Patchell sustained a pectoral injury during the first half of the Force game last weekend and it has been confirmed today that he has been side lined for next 6-8 weeks.

Jake Te Hiwi retains the starting 12 jersey ahead of Sam Gilbert after a strong performance on Saturday, and Gilbert has been named in the reserves offering cover at first-five, midfield or fullback if needed.  

The game will be played at 2:05pm local time (3:05pm New Zealand Time) at Teufaiva Sport Stadium, Nuku’alofa, Tonga.


Highlanders v Moana Pasifika – 3:05pm (2:05pm NZT), Saturday 4th May, Teufaiva Sport Stadium, Nuku’alofa, Tonga

  1. Daniel Lienert-Brown
  2. Henry Bell
  3. Saula Ma’u
  4. Mitch Dunshea
  5. Fabian Holland
  6. Oliver Haig
  7. Sean Withy
  8. Billy Harmon (C)
  9. Folau Fakatava
  10. Cameron Millar
  11. Connor Garden-Bachop
  12. Jake Te Hiwi
  13. Tanielu Tele’a
  14. Timoci Tavatavanawai
  15. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens



16. Jack Taylor

17. Ayden Johnstone

18. Jermaine Ainsley

19. Will Tucker

20. Nikora Broughton

21. James Arscott

22. Sam Gilbert

23. Martín Bogado

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