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Joseph returns to Highlanders coach role

Jamie Joseph Highlanders Super Rugby
Jamie Joseph is the longest-tenured Highlanders head coach, with six seasons. PHOTO: DAVE LINTOTT PHOTOGRAPHY

The only head coach to lead the Highlanders to a Super Rugby title is back in charge in Dunedin.


Jamie Joseph, who previously served as Highlanders head coach from 2010-16, leading the southern franchise to its only championship in 2015, is back in the role, taking over from Clarke Dermody.


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The Highlanders announced on Tuesday Joseph would move from his current head of rugby role to head coach, with Dermody remaining with the team as an assistant coach.


“I’m delighted to be back coaching and leading the Highlanders again," said Joseph, who played 86 games for Otago and 20 tests for the All Blacks in the 1990s.


"I am keen to get stuck in with Clarke and the rest of my coaching team next season. My goal is to take this team as far as it can go and to build a record of success that we can all be proud of.”


Joseph, who has also coached Wellington, the Maori All Blacks, Japan and the Sunwolves, is the longest-tenured coach in Highlanders history, with a 54-0-47 record in 101 matches. His teams reached the playoffs on three occasions and recorded only one losing season.



Highlanders chairman Peter Kean said the changes were another positive step forward for the Highlanders.


“We believe these changes will take advantage of the unique skill sets that both Jamie and Clarke possess. Jamie has a proven track record as a coach at international level and that experience and knowledge will be hugely beneficial to the Highlanders.


"As a board we are delighted Clarke will remain with the Highlanders and he will have an enormous contribution to make as Jamie’s assistant.”



Dermody posted a 16-0-18 record in charge of the Highlanders - as the interim coach during Super Rugby Trans-Tasman in 2021, and head coach in 2023 and 2024.


The 44-year-old was proud of what the team had achieved in 2024 - reaching the Super Rugby Pacific playoffs as the sixth seed - but understood the change.


“It’s a change that Jamie discussed with me and while I am very proud of what we achieved this season, I accept the view that it will be of benefit to the club to have his coaching influence on the team next year.


"From that perspective, I believe it’s a positive step and  I’m happy to support the move in the best interests of the club.”



Dermody, who played 89 games for the Southland Stags, 44 matches for the Highlanders and three tests for the All Blacks in the 2000s, was confident the team can develop further in 2025.


“I know there is plenty of growth left in this team. They are all still mostly young and relatively inexperienced players at Super Rugby level," said Dermody, who has served as assistant coach with Southland and co-coach with the Tasman Makos.


"We all learned a lot this year and the benefits of that experience will pay dividends for us next year. Personally, I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with Jamie in unleashing the potential within the team next season”.


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