Highlanders

Eight new Highlanders in 2018

Makos forwards Shannon Frizell, Pari Pari Parkinson and Tyrel Lomax join McKay, while Counties prop Kalolo Tuiloma, Counties outside back Tevita Nabura and Wellington midfielder Thomas Umaga-Jensen are also new.

Otago first five-eighth Josh Ioane is the other new player, and will cover Lima Sopoaga and Fletcher Smith in the No 10 jersey. 

There is no space for former Highlanders co-captain Shane Christie, who didn't play at all last season due to an "illness". 

Mauger to coach Highlanders

The Dunedin-based franchise confirmed Mauger as Tony Brown's replacement at their headquarters on Tuesday morning. 

The 36-year-old has signed a three-year deal and beat out fellow Cantabrian Mark Hammett for the top job.

Mauger, who played 46 tests and 89 Super games, signed on as an assistant coach in May, about a month before long-time Highlanders assistant coach Scott McLeod was confirmed as the All Blacks' new defence coach.  

Highlanders prop signs with Glasgow

The 30-year-old will make the shift to Scotland at the completion of the Mitre 10 Cup, where he will play one final season for the Tasman Makos.

The six-cap Tongan international made his Super Rugby debut with the Highlanders in 2016 and has gone on to make 26 appearances.

"I'm excited to be joining Glasgow Warriors with my family later this year," Halanukonuka told glasgowwarriors.org.

"It is a team aiming for titles and big things which excites me.

Clinical Crusaders crush Highlanders

Chasing their eighth title and first since 2008, the Crusaders will remain in Christchurch next week to meet either the Stormers or the Chiefs who play later on Saturday in Cape Town.

RNZI reports driving rain and wind greeted both teams at a sodden AMI Stadium, but the conditions played into the hands of the home side's dominant pack while dampening the Highlanders' attacking firepower.

Front-rowers Joe Moody and Codie Taylor rumbled over for tries to drive the Crusaders to a 17-0 lead at halftime that the Highlanders were unable to budge in the second half.

Naholo sticking with Highlanders

Naholo had been weighing up a move to the Chiefs for 2018, however in a social media video posted after the Highlanders' captain's run in Dunedin, he confirmed his intention to stay in the south for one more year.

RNZI reports the 26-year-old will start on the right wing for the Highlanders in today's quarter-final against the Crusaders.

Naholo's decision is welcome news for the Highlanders, following the confirmation that mid-fielder Malakai Fekitoa will leave at the end of the season to take up a contract in France with Toulon.

     

Highlanders dispatch Reds

All they can do now is sit back and wait to see if they have to travel to Johannesburg to play the Lions or to Christchurch to play the Crusaders in the quarterfinals, something they might not know until about 5am on Sunday morning. 

Highlanders coach Tony Brown has maintained all week he'd rather play the unbeaten Crusaders, meaning he will be keeping a close eye on Saturday night's match between the Hurricanes and Crusaders in Wellington.

Smiths rested for Highlanders

However, eight-Test flanker Liam Squire returns from injury to boost the Highlanders, who are fourth in the New Zealand conference and set to meet either South Africa's high-flying Lions or competition-leading countrymen the Crusaders in the quarter-finals.

Halfback Aaron Smith is rested after playing every match in the All Blacks' drawn Test series with the British and Irish Lions, while influential fullback Smith has been given another week off after vertigo kept him out of the final two tests.

Highlanders centre Malakai Fekitoa to feature in ESPN magazine's Body Issue

The yearly publication, which began in 2009, features athletes from across the globe stripped down in an exploration of the athletic body in photographs, with only props from the athlete's sport to cover up. 

Fekitoa will be the first New Zealand athlete to be featured in the magazine, and just the second rugby player in over 200 athletes to take part in the issue since 2009.

United States rugby stalwart Todd Clever, who is the most capped American rugby player in their history, was in the 2015 edition. 

Warburton blames Lions discipline

The Lions conceded 12 penalties in Dunedin - five more than the home side - and were beaten by Marty Banks' decisive kick six minutes from time.

The result represents the tourists' second defeat of the tour to New Zealand after they were beaten by the Blues last Wednesday, and Warburton knows things must improve.

"We gave away too much possession at the breakdown, we turned over a bit too much ball," Warburton told Sky Sports. 

"I thought when we were direct, we looked good.

Crusaders hot for Southern derby

Official records note the Crusaders beat the Brumbies in the competition's opening weekend, but the reality is the magnificent charge that has led to them equalling the 2002 champion side's effort of 13 straight victories began in that second round fixture in Dunedin on March 4.

Time might heal some wounds but for those south of the Waitaki River, the memory of the Crusaders screaming back from a 21-point deficit to stun the Highlanders 30-27 at Forsyth Barr Stadium must sting.