38-year-old second-rower Brad Thorn is one of three players who have committed their futures to the Highlanders.
Second-rower Brad Thorn is one of three players who have committed their futures to the Highlanders.
There had been speculation that Thorn would head overseas after the Highlanders completed their Super Rugby campaign which ended with yet another disappointing defeat on Friday. However, the 38-year-old has thrown his lot in with the Dunedin outfit for another year.
Fly-half Hayden Parker and loose forward TJ Ioane are the others to put pen to paper, following in the footsteps of All Black Ben Smith who signed a new deal earlier in the season.
“It's great to have Brad on board for 2014 as he brings a great deal of professionalism to any team he plays for. His work ethic, experience and leadership are invaluable for our team and he has been one of the most consistent players this season,” commented coach Jaime Joseph.
“Hayden in his first year of super rugby has also shown he has the right temperament and skillset to play a lot of games at this level. He has done well and we will benefit from having him in our environment next year.”
He added: “TJ has been a revelation this year after filling the huge void created in our team with the loss, through injury, of Nasi Manu. TJ has come on leaps and bounds and will make a significant contribution in 2014.”
In addition, Maori All Black Shane Christie has joined the franchise.
“I look forward to welcoming Shane Christie who I coached in last year's Maori All Blacks UK tour – he was one of the standout players,” added Joseph.
“Shane has been one of the form open side flankers in ITM for a couple of seasons. He has a high work-rate with or without the ball – and can be very destructive at the breakdown. With more game time at this level I believe he will mature into a very good openside. His different style will compliment that of John Hardie's and will be a great benefit to the team.
“One of the lessons I have learnt from contracting players over the past three seasons is the players that are hungry to be part of the team show this by committing early and putting their energy into their rugby. They know what they want and back themselves and the abilities of the team to be successful. Having Ben, Brad, Hayden, Shane, TJ and Tamati commit to the Highlanders after a poor season tells me they are hungry to play rugby – as coach I am excited about that.
“We will be watching the ITM Cup competition with great interest as we look to fill the remaining positions in the squad for 2014.”