Bekhuis wants to win his place back

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 29/03/2014
Josh Bekhuis
SCOTT BARBOUR/ Getty
HARD MAN: Josh Bekhuis.

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Southland's Josh Bekhuis has been struggling to get a run with the Highlanders and may look to head overseas at the end of the season.

The 27-year-old comes off contract with both the Highlanders and Rugby Southland in December and has his agent scouting around for opportunities.

The chance to play overseas was something which appealed, he said.

''I'm still young, 27 turning 28; it's probably a good time to head away and do a bit of travelling with my fiancee. It's just a timing thing, I could end up staying and carrying on,'' Bekhuis said.

''I leave a lot of it to my agent. What I have to do is think about the now, and the games coming up and getting back into that team. I'm staying positive, training hard and maybe in a month or two those questions about my future will start to come up. Hopefully by then I'll be in a situation where I've got a few options.''

Bekhuis has played 71 games for the Highlanders since his debut in 2009.

In a competitive locking group he has dropped behind the likes of Brad Thorn, Jarrad Hoeata and Joe Wheeler, and for the second week in a row wasn't required for tonight's game against the Blues at Eden Park.

''So far it's been a bit frustrating. Obviously the other locks are going good and there's a bit of a challenge there. I try and stay positive and know that I'll get back in there. It's been different - for the last few years I've been a starting option for most games. Coming off the bench at the start of the season and now not being in the squad, it's about adapting to that.''

Bekhuis is determined to work out some of the kinks in his game which are keeping him out of the team, including being more of a presence at scrumtime and with ball in hand.

The last thing he wants to do is sulk about his present position.

''I'm definitely not one of those guys. I'll back myself and I'm confident I'll get back out there.''

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph still rates Bekhuis.

''We've done a lot of talking with Lurchey. He's been a loyal servant and he's one of our leaders so that's how high a regard we hold him in. In the old school he'd be a backseater. It's a hard one for Lurchey, but he'll get his chance, no doubt, shortly.''

The Highlanders will be trying to keep a run going which has seen them win four of their last five games against the Blues, although wins at Eden Park have been hard to come by.

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Ma'a Nonu and Jerome Kaino's influence will be closely watched, while the Blues will undoubtedly miss halfback Piri Weepu, who is out of the game in the short term after a minor stroke.

The Highlanders led the Blues 24-nil at halftime in their opening round win in Dunedin, before holding on for a 29-21 victory.

Meanwhile, Bekhuis played for Dunedin club Zingari last weekend but will turn out for Star against Woodlands in the Scruffy Butt memorial game today, potentially playing alongside his brothers Jared and Jeremy for the first time.

Later in the year he'll return to the Stags for a ninth season and try for the six games he needs to become the province's newest centurion.

- The Southland Times

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