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Founded in 1996, the Highlanders represent the lower south island provinces of North Otago, Otago and Southland, sharing the island with the Crusaders to their north. The Cantabrians, however, typically overshadow their southern peers on the field.
The Highlanders converted a strong start to the season into a fifth straight finals appearance – despite finishing fourth in the New Zealand conference. They were unable to progress past the first week, however, falling to the Waratahs in a qualifying final.
With a strong looking roster, many are picking the Highlanders to edge that little bit closer to their heavy-hitting conference rivals. They’re a near certainty for finals, and would fancy their chances of taking out the top gong.
Coach: Aaron Mauger
Captains: Ash Dixon, Ben Smith
2018 finish: 4th New Zealand conference, 6th overall. Lost quarter-final to Waratahs.
Highlanders 2019 Super Rugby squad
Marty Banks, Richard Buckman, Liam Colton, Josh Dickson, Ash Dizon, Elliot Dixon, Sef Fa’agase, Matt Faddes, Folau Fakatava, Tom Franklin, Shannon Frizell, Bryn Gatland, Kayne Hammington, Jackson Hemopo, Dillon Hunt, Josh Ioane, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Ayden Johnstone, James Lentjes, Tevita Li, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Tyrel Lomax, Josh McKay, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Tevita Nabura, Waisake Naholo, Ray Niuia, Pari Pari Parkinson, Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Liam Squire, Rob Thompson, Siate Tokolahi, Sio Tomkinson, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Teihoranhgi Walden, Jack Whetton, Luke Whitelock