Touching reason for mass Highlanders makeover
In the throes of a grim situation, the Highlanders have thrown their support behind Josh Dickson after his younger brother was diagnosed with cancer.
Dickson removed himself from the Super Rugby Pacific squad in recent weeks to deal with the news.
In solidarity with Dickson and his brother Sam, the forwards have shaved their heads prior to the round six clash with Moana Pasifika.
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Highlanders halfbacks Aaron Smith and Folau Fakatava performed the haircuts on their teammates.
Downbeat All Blacks prop Ethan De Groot met with media to express his and the organisation’s support for the Dickson family.
“As a team, we’re feeling for Josh at this time, and we just want to express our support for him and his brother in this tough time,” said De Groot.
“I just think shaving our heads is just a way to show them that we are supporting them and thinking of them, for Sam and his family.
“I can imagine he’s pretty gutted.”
A large portion of the squad and management came together to show their support.
Dickson is an important member of the Highlanders, achieving 54 appearances for the organisation since his debut in 2017, against the British and Irish Lions.
Dickson has been on the brink of All Blacks selection, with appearances for the Māori All Blacks and the All Blacks XV demonstrating how highly touted he is by the selectors.
Representing New Zealand under 20s in 2014, Dickson has also represented Otago in the Provincial Cup on 71 occasions.
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The widespread support of Dickson and his brother is demonstrative of the impact Dickson has had in New Zealand rugby circles throughout his career.
De Groot discussed the importance of support and awareness on the topic.
“Cancer is a tough thing,” he said.
“If you ask anyone in New Zealand, they’d know someone or someone in their families who have battled through cancer.
“I think it’s a great thing we’re doing to get the forwards to buy into it. It’s pretty cool.”
There is no return date for when Dickson will be back on the field, but it is clear the Highlanders will support him however long that may be.
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