Woodcock to join Highlanders
Mon, 10 Sep 2012 6:46p.m.
By Jim Kayes
Blues prop Tony Woodcock will move to the Highlanders next season, leaving fellow All Black and Crusaders prop Ben Franks likely to move to either the Hurricanes or the Blues.
Woodcock has wasted few words explaining why he was leaving the Blues after 10 years. He doesn't enjoy the limelight and he's even less likely to wax lyrical about his shift to the Highlanders.
“I guess it excites me with a different challenge and a new picture for me,” he says.
It's exciting news for new teammates like wing Ben Smith.
“I think it's awesome for us and for him to bring that experience to our environment. Will be great looking forward to next year.”
One player now not likely to shift to Dunedin is Franks. The Hurricanes are confident they've signed the Crusaders prop while the Blues are also keen to get him.
Woodcock leaves the Blues after 113 games. He'll team up with Andrew Hore at the Highlanders, but had to tell Keven Mealamu he was leaving the Blues.
“Kevvie's all right,” Woodcock says. “I spoke to him earlier on he understands and wishes me well.”
So Woodcock’s new Super Rugby home is the superb covered stadium in Dunedin where the All Blacks will play for the first time when they tackle the Springboks on Saturday.
Changes will be minimal. Liam Messam's likely to start at blindside flanker and Aaron Smith could make way for what would be Piri Weepu's first start this year.
And though he is nursing a sore leg, try scorer Julian Savea's tipped to be ok, and to start again ahead of Highlanders wing Hosea Gear.
All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster is pleased with his progress.
“He certainly finished that game much stronger than he started it and part of that's just time in the saddle and getting used to things.”
And though some nasty weather is forecast, with the roof over the stadium the All Blacks’ backs have no excuse not to be cooking with gas in their final home test on Saturday.
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