Now Jason Rutledge is called into Highlanders

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 19/03/2013
Jason Rutledge
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
ANSWERING THE CALL AGAIN: Jason Rutledge has returned to the Highlanders’ setup after being called in as injury cover for Andrew Hore and Brayden Mitchell.

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As expected, the Highlanders have called up Jason Rutledge, adding to what has been a bizarre week for the veteran Stags hooker.

This time last week Rutledge was in Wellington as part of the Hurricanes' setup, scrambling like a university student studying the Hurricanes playbook and in particular their lineout systems.

The 35-year-old had answered an SOS call by Mark Hammett after the Hurricanes lost both first-line hookers Dane Coles and Motu Matu'u in their round three clash against the Crusaders.

However, Matu'u recovered in time to take his place in the 22 alongside the organisation's third-string hooker Ash Dixon.

Rutledge returned to his plumbing job in Invercargill after a crash course in what the Hurricanes were all about.

However, after listening to the Hurricanes plot the Highlanders' downfall, he's back with the Highlanders preparing in Dunedin for their game against the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday night.

He has been called up on a contract of 4-6 weeks as injury cover for Andrew Hore and Brayden Mitchell.

Hore has a rib injury, while Mitchell has a broken collarbone.

It seems certain Rutledge will join the Highlanders' third-string hooking option, Liam Coltman, in the 22 on Friday night.

The Southland hooker has had various stints with the Highlanders, playing 58 times from 2004 through to last year.

He was overlooked for a contract for the 2013 Super Rugby campaign, however four weeks into the season he looks set to play a key role for the Highlanders in a crunch time.

The Highlanders have also moved to bolster their midfield stocks, signing up 34-year-old Neil Brew also for 4-6 weeks.

Brew previously played for the Highlanders from 2004 to 2006, playing 36 games all up.

In 2006, he left to join the Bristol club in England where he played until taking up a contract in Japan with the Kobe Kobelco Steelers in 2010.

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has a strong connection with Japanese rugby, including playing nine tests for them.

There has been a trend during his time in charge of the Highlanders of recruiting Kiwis who are playing in Japan to come back to New Zealand.

They have included Tamati Ellison and Jake Parangtai, with Brew the latest.

Brew was included on the bench for the Highlanders development team's game against Fiji A in Dunedin last night.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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