2013 Season Preview: HIGHLANDERS

by Brendan Bradford - The Otago Highlanders have flown out of the gates in each of the last two seasons and looked like genuine title contenders before going off the boil mid-year and finishing 8th in 2011 and 9th in 2012. Injury, inconsistency and straight bad luck contributed to the disappointing climaxes to both seasons but in 2013, after a concerted recruitment effort, the Dunedin based franchise seems to have the mixture of raw talent, depth, youth and experience that could convert a promising start into a successful year. The side has lost some big names in Jimmy Cowan, James Haskell and Adam Thomson but can more than adequately cover for them with the likes of All Blacks Ma’a Nonu, Tony Woodcock, the ageless Brad Thorn and exciting new talents like Japanese halfback Fumiaki Tanaka and elusive back Buxton Popoali’i. The side boasts a near All Blacks backline with Aaro
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