Highlanders name 2024 MVP at annual awards night

The 2024 Highlanders Annual Awards Evening, thanks to John Jones Steel, was held last night at the University of Otago Business School and was a night of celebration, especially for Highlanders winger Timoci Tavatavanawai who picked up four awards, including Pulse Energy Most. Valuable player.

Tavatavanawai has been a tremendous force on the wing for the Highlanders this year and has consistently been a standout player both on offense and equally impressive on defense. Tavatavanawai has consistently been one of the Highlanders’ best players on the field and has started all 13 games played, the only member of the team to do so, playing a staggering 1,027 minutes of rugby so far in 2024. He was awarded Back of the Year, Defender of the Year and, unsurprisingly, a solid season-long fan favorite – the 2024 Player of the Year. Tavatavanawai currently leads the Super Rugby competition in jackals (losses ball wins in the tackle), which is a statistic usually won by relaxed forwards.

Other winners on the night included Forward of the Year Billy Harmon, who has once again led from the front this season and put in some spectacular performances, earning the respect of his teammates, who also voted Harmon Speight Player of the Year 2024 for the second consecutive year.

The University of Otago U20’s most valuable player was Max Ratcliffe. Ratcliffe is a current member of the John Jones Steel High Performance Program and had an outstanding tournament at the annual Super Rugby U20 tournament in Taupō. The Highlanders Rookie of the Year (player in the first year of a full-time Super Rugby contract) went to Oliver Haig, who graduated from the High Performance Program and has looked at home in Super Rugby and wearing jersey number six. Haig has played in the most recent 10 games, and after coming off the bench in the first three he has secured the starting shirt in the last seven.

Ethan de Groot received the prestigious Highlander Man award. This award is given to the person who best represents the club’s values ​​and Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark said de Groot deserved it.

“Ethan is a true Highlander who not only contributes to the club on the field but also off it. He is an integral part of our team and he is widely respected, and at only 25 years old he has achieved a lot and still has many years ahead of him.”

In addition to the on-field and performance awards, the Highlanders also awarded their 2024 Community Champion to Hayden Michaels, who completed the most hours in the community during 2024. Michaels contributed to the team’s impressive total of more than 1,200 hours in the season 2024. Ayden Johnstone received the Player Personal Development Award for his work off the field in the Player Personal Development Program and Nasi Manu received the inaugural Southern Inspiration Award, which is awarded to the person who best embodies the Club’s Purpose of Southern Inspiration.

The event was attended by 250 guests including sponsors, partners, players and partners.



Community Champion

Hayden Michaels

Player Personal Development Award

Ayden Johnstone

comeback of the year

Timoci Tavatavanawai

progress of the year

Billy Harmon

Defender of the year

Timoci Tavatavanawai

Amateur Player of the Year

Timoci Tavatavanawai

Speights Player Player

Billy Harmon

Southern Inspiration Award

Nasi Manu

Otago University U20 MVP

Max Ratcliffe

Rookie of the Year

Oliver Haig

Pulse Energy Most Valuable Player

Timoci Tavatavanawai

mountain man

Ethan de Groot