What do you want? What will you sacrifice? How far will you go to win?
Head High is a family drama series about the hopes, dreams and expectations of high school rugby in New Zealand, told through the eyes of rugby mum Renee, her rugby coach husband Vince, and their whanau.
It’s rugby season again, and last year’s rival schools Southdown High and defending champions Saint Isaac’s College are set for another intense season of 1A rugby, the country’s premiere school boy rugby competition. But…
Renee O’Kane – coach’s wife; mother of two opposing first fifteen captains; police officer; working mum; Māori woman – finds herself increasingly disillusioned with life. After yet another hard day on the beat, she’s left with a sinking heart as she realises that as a cop, she’s not saving the world, only picking up the broken pieces. Her family are preoccupied with rugby, and it seems that the only person who sees her for who she really is, is her mate and work partner, Cruz Kingi. Feeling at odds with her life and her family, Renee is desperate to reconnect with Vince on a level that isn’t rugby.
But, Vince has a dominating new force in his life. Wealthy Samoan businessman and entrepreneur Mitch Belsham, has moved his son Nico to Southdown High, to be part of the team of underdogs-turned-champions. Mitch is successful, charismatic and keen to throw money at all of Vince’s problems. A new team van, gear – he even enlists a couple of All Blacks to join in a fundraising game. Vince is completely taken with his new best mate, and doesn’t notice that Mitch and his son may have moved to Auckland to escape some secrets.
Under Mitch’s influence, Vince starts to question his long-held values that better people make better players, that sportsmanship and etiquette matter just as much as winning. Starting to believe that nice guys don’t win
championships, Vince casts aside his values and determines to do whatever it takes to win. This pushes Renee further away, this isn’t how they raised their whanau and it’s definitely not the type of attribute that she wants to see in her husband. But Vince’s so immersed in his new ‘win-at-all-costs’ mentality, he doesn’t realise that Renee is slowly slipping away.
Meanwhile, Vince and Renee’s offspring have big journeys of their own. Tai finds himself drawn into the world of troubled rich girl Imogen Grimstone, as he tries to rescue her from an abusive relationship with rugby coach JW. Tai must convince Imogen that the teacher isn’t her first great love, but a predator. When Tai’s alliance with Imogen starts to affect how JW treats him within the team, Tai must decide how much he really wants the team captaincy. Can he turn a blind eye to JW’s predatory behaviour, or will he stick by his friend instead?
Mana has big decisions to make about his future; but his dreams of professional rugby become clouded when he learns that his biological dad Jesse Roberts, is suffering from traumatic brain injury, brought on by years of knocks and bumps playing professional rugby. Jesse’s future looks grim but he tells Mana that the stardom and success is worth the sacrifice. Live for the day, play hard, die young. But is this a sacrifice Mana is willing to make for rugby?
Little sister Aria is trying to move on from her first love, who died on the rugby field last year. Her attention is caught by Nico. The new Southdown rugby star is funny and charming – but there something else that Nico is hiding that leaves Aria wondering where she stands in his world.
Riley Deering, young star of the Southdown team, has been living happily with the O’Kane family ever since his alcoholic mother took off months ago. But her return into town shakes up Riley’s perfect life with his new whanau. Gabrielle has cleaned up her act, she is sober and sorry for her past neglectful behaviour, and is ready to be a mum to Riley. The thing is, Riley is happy where he is. But he’s also very aware that Gabrielle stands on shaky ground. He doesn’t want to do anything that could send her into a relapse. Will Riley sacrifice his own happiness to keep his mother on the straight and narrow?
As the rugby season heats up and the competition becomes more intense, all of the O’Kane whanau must decide what sacrifices to make, what price to pay, in order to get what they want from life. And all too soon, each of them must individually decide if winning at all costs is really the way to go?