Cape Town – The
Highlanders have lured Mitchell Hunt and Ngane Punivai from the
Crusaders as part of a quartet of backline signings that also includes
Otago wing Jona Nareki, 21, and Wellington utility back Connor
Highlanders head coach Aaron Mauger told the Stuff website’s that Hunt will compete
with Josh Ioane for the No 10 jersey but will also be in the running to
occupy the fullback spot vacated by France-bound Ben Smith as the
Highlanders weigh up an All Blacks-style “dual playmaker” system.
Punivai’s signature represents something of a coup as the 20-year-old has been touted as a potential All Black.
Punivai made his Crusaders debut against the Lions this season and will
give the Highlanders the size they have looking for in the outside
The Highlanders also announced the signing of 20-year-old
Northland outside back Scott Gregory two weeks ago, although Gregory
will only be available for the start of the Highlanders’ 2020 Super
Rugby campaign before he switches into Sevens mode and targets the
Olympics with the NZ Sevens side.