The 24-year-old Ainsley hails from Clyde in Central Otago and is the son of former All Black Joe McDonnell who represented both Otago and the Highlanders between 1999-2003 and made 8 appearances for the All Blacks .
Ainsley played for the OBHS First XV before moving to Perth to be closer to his family. He was rewarded for good club form in 2016 when he was selected for the Western Force making his debut against the Rebels in the first round of Super Rugby that season. After two seasons and 17 games for the Western Force he was selected for the Wallabies in 2018 winning his first test cap off the bench against the All Blacks in Sydney. He played two further tests that year during the Wallabies Northern Tour against Italy and England.
Following the Western Force being excluded from Super Rugby, Ainsley joined the Melbourne Rebels signing a deal through to the 2020 season. A hard-working ball carrying prop he will be a welcome addition to the Highlanders propping stocks in 2021.
Pulse Energy Highlanders Head Coach Aaron Mauger is excited by the acquisition of the young tighthead. “Even though Jermaine is only 24 he already has a wealth of experience with over 50 games Super Rugby games and also some exposure at test level. The fact that he has a strong link with our region and club history makes it all the better”.
Ainsley still has family in the region and is looking forward to his return “I’m very excited to be coming home and be surrounded by family. Can’t wait to play Super Rugby in New Zealand it’s a dream come true.”