Lowe signs for Highlanders
TRANSFER NEWS: Only a few days after being appointed as Highlanders head coach, Clarke Dermody is already adding to his 2023 squad.
It’s a mix of youth and experience with the inclusion of Chiefs wing, Jonah Lowe and young Dutch lock, Fabian Holland.
Lowe has signed a three-year agreement to relocate from the Hamilton-based Chiefs to the southernmost Super Rugby franchise.
The 26-year-old Lowe had a standout season and showed his try-scoring prowess against the Waratahs during the Melbourne Super Round where he picked up 20-points on his own.
Sharing his name with another powerful wing, Jonah Lomu, Lowe stands at 1.84m and weighs in at 92kg. He brings a physical approach to the game and can play centre or wing. He made his first-class debut for Hawkes Bay in 2015 in his first year out of school and was the Magpies Back of the Year in 2016.
In 2017 he played against the British & Irish Lions for the NZ Provincial Barbarians and made his debut Super Rugby appearance for the Hurricanes the following year.
In 2020 he was selected for the NZ Māori All Blacks and in 2021 moved to the Chiefs seeking more playing time. He has been a regular starter for the Chiefs and has clocked up 18 caps over the last two seasons.
Coach Dermody likes the power and skill of Lowe’s game: “What I like most about Jonah is the combination of pace and power that he possesses, and they are two great assets for any winger. He will strengthen our outsides and in combination with our other Jona [Nareki] will give us some more strike force out wide. I also like his work ethic, he’s a busy player that works hard with and without the ball.”
Lowe is delighted to be making the move South.
“I have to say I’m looking forward to it and I am very grateful for the opportunity to play for the Highlanders and to play some exciting footy under the roof. Playing in front of the Zoo for the home side will also be a thrill.”
Holland to the Highlanders – is not only a headline, but also the description of the journey young Otago lock Fabian Holland has taken to get to the Highlanders. Since the age of five, Holland has enjoyed rugby, so much so, that in 2019 he left his family and friends in the Netherlands as a 16-year-old and travelled to the other side of the world. Holland landed in Christchurch and had initially planned the trip as six-month rugby immersion experience to learn as much as he could about the game, he was so passionate about.
Fast forward three years and it would seem he has learned plenty. During that time, he has played for the prestigious Christchurch Boys High School 1st XV, the NZ U20 team, Otago NPC team, and received two caps for the Highlanders in 2022 as an injury replacement. A meteoric rise by anyone’s standards but when you consider he has achieved it all away from his family support network and with English as a second language – it’s a truly remarkable story.
Initially, the Highlanders had planned on Holland being involved in 2024 but his development has been so rapid his talent could not be ignored.
It’s his passion for the game and desire to improve that caught the attention of Clark Dermody.
“We all saw Fabian’s physical attributes, at 6’8 they are hard to ignore, but when you really get to know Fabian, you understand that he has a genuine love of the game and of our club. It’s very impressive to see that in a man of his age.”
Dermody acknowledged this young lock still has a way to go but has been impressed by his development so far.
“Virtually every development target he’s been set has been achieved well before we anticipated. When he played for Otago last year, we were interested in how he would manage – no problem, the same when he got an opportunity with us this season, he handled it well both physically and mentally. We’re obviously excited about where he could get to with further time to develop over the next few years.” said Dermody.
Holland who is currently assembled with the NZ U20 team prior to their Oceania Rugby U20 Championship was typically passionate in response to his selection.
“To become a Highlander means everything to me, a little kid’s dream that has become a reality.
“I love this club and the people of the region and can’t wait to get started. I am looking forward to the years ahead.”