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Former English International to join the Highlanders

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English first-five Freddie Burns will join the Highlanders for the 2023 edition of DHL Super Rugby Pacific. Burns, currently playing for Leicester Tigers in the English Premiership has agreed terms with the Highlanders, and with the support of Leicester, will land in New Zealand prior to the first round.

The 32-year-old Burns will bring with him a wealth of experience having started his first-class career with Gloucester back in 2010. His first turn at Leicester was between 2014-2017 before three seasons with Bath and Burns has over 200 appearances in the Premiership to his name. In 2021 he had a short sojourn in Japan before returning to Leicester for the 2022 season.

A former England U20 representative he represented the senior side five times most notably debuting against the All Blacks in 2012, replacing Owen Farrell, in their 38-21 victory.

A prolific goal kicker and tactically sound first-five, who can also play fullback, he was the toast of Leicester when he dropkicked the winning goal for the Tigers against Saracens in the 2022 Gallagher Premiership final.

Burns is looking forward to the experience.

“As a young lad I grew up watching Super rugby in the early hours of morning. To have the opportunity to represent such a prestigious club as the Highlanders in the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season is a huge honour. I look forward to getting started and adding to the group both on and off the field”

Highlanders Head Coach Clarke Dermody has welcomed the arrival of the experienced playmaker.

“Having a player of Freddie’s calibre available to us in such a crucial position is a real boost for the squad. Last year we were exposed at 10 due to a run of injuries and while we covered the situation, we were asking a lot of Sam Gilbert and Vili Koroi who are not regular starting first-fives. Freddie’s arrival will provide us with that extra insurance against that scenario playing out again in 2023”.

Burns will be the second international back to be added to Dermody’s 2023 squad with Argentinian outside back Martin Bogado also set to play in Highlanders colours.

 

ENDS

Content & Images from – Highlanders Rugby


Super Rugby

Aaron Smith Confirms Highlanders exit

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All Blacks Test and Highlander’s centurion Aaron Smith has announced he will spend time playing overseas at the end of 2023. 

Smith and Beauden Barrett have signed with the Toyota club in Japan and while Smith has committed to a long-term contract, New Zealand Rugby is working with Barrett on a return to playing on home soil.

Both players have cemented their place in the top echelon of world rugby. The two most-capped backs in All Blacks history, Smith (114) and Barrett (112 – second equal with Dan Carter) are part of an exclusive group to have won Rugby World Cup and Super Rugby titles.

“From the time I signed my first contract in 2008 until now, I have been living my dream,” said Smith. I have been blessed to represent my home with the Manawatū Turbos, who helped me chase my dream of being a Super Rugby player.

“I have to say a big thanks to the Highlanders for believing in me. I have done it all with that team and they have always been there for me. Thank you to every Highlanders player, staff member and fan. You have given me everything and more in the 13 years we have had together.”

Smith was an integral part of the Highlanders’ maiden Super Rugby title in 2015 and is the team’s most-capped player (176).

Highlanders CEO Roger Clark said: “You look at Aaron and you think, this guy could go on forever. I know we and every Highlanders fan would want him to.

“Unfortunately, that is not a reality in professional rugby and the time has come to say thank you, good luck, and goodbye. That will not be easy for us, our fans or Aaron. He is such a massive part of the Highlanders story, our most-capped player and surely one of our best ever.

“We wish him, Teagan, Luka and Leo all the very best in Japan, and I would encourage everyone to come out this season and watch the master at work one last time.”

Highlanders head coach Clarke Dermody was equally lavish with his praise for the All Black: “Aaron has defined halfback play and the way we like to play the game, fast, skilled, and determined for so long it’s hard to imagine a team sheet without his name on it.

“As a team, we can only thank him for all that he has done for us and wish him, Teagan and his family all the best for the future.”

The former Fielding High School student debuted for Manawatū in 2008 and has amassed 47 appearances for the province, becoming their most-capped international. 

“Aaron’s commitment and dedication to Manawatū has been unquestionable,” said Manawatū Rugby CEO Andrea Jackson said. “That has been made even more clear in recent seasons when he has donned the famous green and white jersey in between his All Blacks duties, in 2020 and 2021.

“We wish Aaron and his whanau all the best for their next adventure, and we hope to see him back one day to bring up his 50th match for Manawatū.”

ENDS

Content & Images from – Highlanders Rugby


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Super Rugby

Oli Jager: Injury Update

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Following an injury sustained towards the end of NPC 2022, Oli Jager has undergone surgery on his neck. 

 

The surgery was a success and he’s progressing well with rehab, having recently returned to some gym-based training and conditioning. He will progress to contact and scrummaging once cleared by the specialist.

 

His return to play date is uncertain at this stage and will depend on his progress over the next weeks and months. Oli and the wider team are committed to him playing an active role in the team environment throughout the 2023 season

Content & Images from – Crusaders Rugby


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All Blacks halfback Folau Fakatava taking no chances in race to be fit for 2023 World Cup

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“In rugby you can’t control when you get injured,” Fakatava told Newshub. “All you can do is come back stronger.”

And with the World Cup kicking off in September, that’s exactly what the two test All Black plans to do.

Fakatava got a taste of international rugby in 2022 – he was part of the All Blacks squad all year but was limited to just two appearances off the bench before his season ended.

“I was really hurt when I heard I’d torn my ACL,” he continued. “But at the same time, you really can’t do anything about it.”

But as Fakatava chases one of three halfback spots in Ian Foster’s World Cup squad, he’s taken matters into his own hands.

“I’ve decided not to do the surgery,” he revealed. “My goal this year is to be back out there for the World Cup.”

A third ACL surgery would’ve ruled him out of contention for France, as a conversation with the All Blacks doctor James McGarvey reassured Fakatava avoiding surgery could work.

“He had a look at my other knee, and found out there’s no ACL in that. 

“That gave me confidence to hopefully do that with my other one.”

There are protections in place to ensure Fakatava is back on the field as close to the start of Super Rugby as possible.

Content & Images from – Highlanders Rugby


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