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Super Rugby

Highlanders Pay Tribute to Departing Smith

The Highlanders have paid tribute to Ben Smith in a classy way

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(Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)

Super Rugby side the Highlanders paid tribute to club legend Ben Smith by releasing ‘the ultimate jersey’ before their final home game of the season.

The full-back was unable to play in the game against the Bulls, due to an injury he picked up last month, however that didn’t stop the home franchise from honouring him with a unique jersey.

The jersey is framed and consists of the four teams that Smith has represented so far in his career, Otago, Green Island, the Highlanders and Kings High School.

Smith is set to depart the New Zealand-based side following the conclusion of the country’s Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan and is set to join French outfit Pau.

In April he made his 150th appearance for the club and will leave as the side’s most-capped player. He has also played 75 times for New Zealand and will hope to add to that number come September when the World Cup comes around.

It is hoped Smith will line out one final time for the franchise next week in a game which means little following their 24-24 draw with the Bulls leaving them doubtful to make the play-offs. However, the Highlanders will want to send Smith off on a winning note.

No matter what happens it was a fitting finish on home soil for a true legend of the game.

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Will Genia hints that his Super Rugby career is over.

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Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images

The Rebels played their final conference game on Saturday against the Chiefs in Melbourne but came out the wrong side of a drubbing.

After the game, Wallabies and Rebels’ scrum-half Will Genia took to Instagram with a very poignant post.

Genia (31) uploaded a picture collage with a try-scoring picture of himself getting over the whitewash for the Queensland Reds and more recently, the Rebels.

His caption read, “What a ride Super Rugby”.

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What a ride @superrugby ✌🏾

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His contract with the Rebels expires this year and he has been tipped for another move overseas. Genia has had a stint in Europe previously with Stade Francais but it’s rumoured that a move to Japan is looking more likely.

Quade Cooper, his current half back partner with the Rebels and previously with the Reds and Wallabies commented on the post,

“Much love bro! Been unreal being back together ✊🏾❤️ love you bro”

Quade Cooper is another whose contract is up in the air. His deal with the Rebels also expires at the end of the Super Rugby campaign and he has also been widely linked with a move to Europe with Harlequins one of the favourites to land the mercurial playmakers signature.

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Super Rugby

Christian Lealiifano is on the move.

Former Ulster Rugby Fly-Half is on the move.

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Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Plus500 Brumbies flyhalf Christian Lealiifano has confirmed that he will depart the ACT Brumbies at the conclusion of the 2019 Super Rugby season to take up a contract offer in Japan.

The Brumbies captain, who has played 148 times for the club will end his twelve-year association with the club at the culmination of the Brumbies campaign.

“This was a difficult decision for me and would like to thank the Brumbies for their support throughout my time at the club,” Lealiifano said of his choice to move to Japan.

“The Brumbies mean a lot to me and my family, and they have given me so much.

“I love Canberra and the community, as it’s my home and will always hold a special place in my heart.

“The players, staff, members and supporters have been behind me every step of the way since my debut and I am grateful and thankful for their unconditional support.

“I leave with many amazing memories and friendships which I will cherish.

“The support that the Canberra public gave me and my family through a difficult time in my life will never be forgotten.

“I believe this club has a bright future under Dan and his coaching staff and look forward to following that progress.

“We still have much to play for this season as well, starting with our Quarter Final against the Sharks on Saturday evening, and I am fully focused on doing my best to help us reach the next stage.”

Lealiifano made his debut for the Brumbies in 2008 against the Crusaders in Christchurch and latterly made his Test bow in unique circumstances, against the British & Irish Lions on their 2013 tour.

He subsequently won a much-publicised battle with Leukaemia to reignite his rugby career, earning a recall to the Wallabies training camp ahead of this year’s Rugby World Cup in the land of the Rising Sun.

“We are sad to see Christian move on but we are very grateful to have had such a quality person at our club for so long,” Head Coach Dan McKellar commented.

“Christian has been a huge part of the Brumbies for 12 years now. His contribution both on field and off field have been enormous.

“Christian the player, has been so important for us, his fearlessness, his direction, his leadership, particularly this year. He’s grown so much as a leader in my time here, but Christian the person is what makes him who he is.

“You will not meet a more selfless person then Christian Lealiifano. To go through what he went through, and to comeback and still find time to lead and care for those around him, to be there for his teammates, he’s an incredible person.

“He should be very proud of the legacy he leaves at the Brumbies.

“We wish Christian, his family all the best for his future in Japan and beyond.”

A firm favourite with the Brumbies faithful, Lealiifano has captained the side 46 times with only George Gregan (47 caps as Captain) and Ben Mowen (51) ahead of him on the list of players to lead the team onto the field.

“Christian has been a tremendous ambassador for the club, both on and off the field, and we are sorry to see him leave,” Plus500 Brumbies CEO Phil Thomson commented.

“On behalf of the Brumbies family we wish Christian, and his family, all the best for their next adventure.”

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International

Offer Kerevi Turned Down was “very, very good”

Wallabies’ director of rugby Scott Johnson rues the loss of one of the nation’s star players

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(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Wallabies’ director of rugby Scott Johnson has admitted that Rugby Australia did all they could to secure the services of Samu Kerevi.

The 25-year-old centre has starred for both club and country but turned down a contract extension with both and will move to Japan following the conclusion of the World Cup later this year.

Johnson, who was speaking at a Melbourne Rebels function ahead of their final regular season game of this year’s Super Rugby, is disappointed that Australia has lost a key player in their prime.

“Let’s get it straight, the offer was good. I’ve seen the offer that Samu was given and it was a very, very good offer that would have put him in the higher echelons of our country,” he said.

The decision to leave by the 23-capped Aussie is also due to off-field matters and Johnson knows that it is complicated.

“It’s not perfect for him and for us and we understand there are issues away from the game for him. It opens the door for other players who we may be talking about in a different light in 12 months’ time,” he added.

Kerevi becomes that latest player to head overseas to play their trade, and he is well below the 60-cap requirement needed for such players to represent the Wallabies, but Johnson stands by the law.

“I think the key component is that we have a responsibility to make sure our competition is the best in the world. It’s great to be able to control the player – their strength and conditioning and their skill development. We understand there are challenges but at the moment we think there’s a nice mix of rewarding longevity,” he finished.

However, former-Wallaby captain Stirling Mortlock, who was also at the function, believes that Rugby Australia needs a serious change, or it will face massive problems in the future.

“It’s a massive challenge and if we don’t get our house in order in four years’ time, we will have to change the eligibility rule because you might have a lot of players not in Super Rugby. It baffles me that we still haven’t got our house in order with everyone pulling in the same direction. We’ve got still different factions in different areas looking after their own backyard and that’s what’s stifling us. The New Zealand model is all about creating great All Blacks and everyone club and player knows that, but it doesn’t happen in this country,” he said.

Wallabies fans are certainly not pleased by the loss of Kerevi and Rugby Australia will need to do something soon to ensure that key players stay with them in the future.

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