Otago Daily Times

Abun­dance of op­tions at loose for­ward

- STEVE HEP­BURN Sports · Rugby · New York Yankees · Canterbury · Japan · New Zealand · Shannon Frizell

THE High­landers should have plenty of op­tions at loose for­ward next year af­ter the sign­ing of Ja­panese loose for­ward Kazuki Hi­meno.

The fran­chise con­firmed the sign­ing of the 26­year­old yes­ter­day, say­ing he had sealed a oneyear deal with the High­landers.

The team had al­ready signed Canterbury open­side flanker Billy Har­mon for next year while it still has Marino Mikaele­Tu’u and Shan­non Frizell on its books.

Dil­lon Hunt has moved to the Blues while last sea­son’s cap­tain, James Len­t­jes, is work­ing his way back from a se­ri­ous leg in­jury.

Sione Misiloi did not take the field for the High­landers this year af­ter break­ing a bone in his foot and he may not be back.

Jesse Parete, who played mostly at lock, is be­lieved to be play­ing in Ja­pan next sea­son.

Zane Kapeli was like Misiloi and did not play this sea­son and his fu­ture looks un­clear.

In Su­per Rugby Aotearoa, Mikaele­Tu’u, at No 8, Frizell on the blind­side, and Hunt on the open­side were ever present for the High­landers and im­pressed through­out.

Teariki Ben­Nicholas also came off the bench for the side while Tom Florence joined the squad as in­jury cover late on.

The se­lec­tion of Hi­meno will add some in­trigue to the mix and his ball car­ry­ing abil­i­ties will be a bonus for the side.

High­landers as­sis­tant coach Tony Brown is fa­mil­iar with Hi­meno’s style of play hav­ing coached him with the Brave Blos­soms and be­lieves he will be suited the High­landers style of play.

“He’s a very pow­er­ful ball car­rier and can play a num­ber of po­si­tions in the back row and should flour­ish un­der the roof at Forsyth Barr Sta­dium,’’ Brown said.

The way the game is evolv­ing, hard­run­ning ball­car­ry­ing for­wards are a ma­jor as­set for the side and Hi­meno falls into that cat­e­gory.

He im­pressed in the World Cup for Ja­pan but, un­for­tu­nately for him and Ja­pan, the na­tional team has yet to play a test this year.

A sea­son of Su­per Rugby will be a huge bonus for Hi­meno and Ja­pan.

The Ja­panese play­ers bring a huge work ethic to the ta­ble and an ea­ger­ness to learn which is a real as­set at this level.

 ??  ?? Kazuki Hi­meno
Kazuki Hi­meno

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