Musical chairs at the Highlanders as Jamie Joseph reappointed as head coach

David Skippers
Jamie Joseph Japan head coach 2023 - Alamy.jpg

Jamie Joseph will be the Highlanders' head coach in 2025.

The Highlanders have announced changes to their backroom staff for the 2025 season with Jamie Joseph, who currently serves as the team’s head of rugby, appointed as the new head coach.

The 54-year-old is no stranger to the position as he previously coached the Highlanders from 2011 to 2016 and joined them from Wellington where he guided that team to their first Ranfurly Shield win in 26 years.

Impressive coaching record

In 2015, Joseph was in charge of the Highlanders when they won their one and only Super Rugby title, before moving to Japan to take over the coaching reins at the Brave Blossoms in 2017 and he held that role until last year’s Rugby World Cup in France.

Meanwhile, the Dunedin-based outfit also confirmed that Clarke Dermody, who was the team’s head coach during their 2023 and 2024 Super Rugby Pacific campaigns, will remain as part of Joseph’s backroom as an assistant coach.

Joseph is looking forward to the challenge of coaching the Highlanders for a second time.

“I’m delighted to be back coaching and leading the Highlanders again,” he told the club’s official website. “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.”

Dermody is proud of what the team has achieved this year under his guidance and understands the change.

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“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,” he said.

“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.”

After bowing out in this year’s Super Rugby Pacific quarter-finals, Dermody believes the Highlanders can reach even greater heights in 2025.

“I know there is plenty of growth left in this team,” he added. “They are all still mostly young and relatively inexperienced players at Super Rugby level. We all learned a lot this year and the benefits of that experience will pay dividends for us next year.

Keen to work with Joseph

“Personally, I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with Jamie in unleashing the potential within the team next season.”

Highlanders chairman Peter Kean feels the changes announced will take the Highlanders in the right direction.

“We believe these changes will take advantage of the unique skill sets that both Jamie and Clarke possess,” he said.

“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.”

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