Ellison defection hits ABs' midfield resources

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 11/05/2013
Tamati Ellison
Fairfax NZ
HEADING OFF: Tamati Ellison has no regrets about his decision to head to Japan.

Related Links

Few surprises expected in Hansen's first group Highlanders' Tamati Ellison to return to Japan Old guard or new talent, it's time to decide ABs camps set to disrupt Super Rugby teams Jeff Wilson: Earning the jersey is paramount Chill out over All Blacks stars, says Hansen

Relevant offers

All Blacks

Champion All Blacks missing from World Cup ad Conrad Smith relishing old reunion in midfield All Blacks lock has an appetite for destruction Keven Mealamu has sights on 2015 World Cup Key cog for All Blacks Cane kept in cotton wool Shield stunner unlikely to win Dagg test recall Ma'a Nonu available for Pumas, says Hansen Aaron Cruden steps out of Dan Carter's shadow Gifford: Has All Blacks aura gone? Yeah, right Rugby's Superman McCaw deserves super fans

Reports of Tamati Ellison's defection to Japan have further eroded the All Blacks' midfield options.

Ellison, who is currently in South Africa with the Highlanders, is set to turn his back on the All Blacks and return to Japanese club Ricoh.

Highlanders general manager Roger Clark last night confirmed Ellison's deal with the New Zealand Rugby Union and the Highlanders expired at the end of the Super Rugby season.

"This is no surprise to us. He had a two-year deal with us and we have just found out that he has notified the NZRU that he will terminate early," Clark said.

Ellison is with the Highlanders in South Africa preparing for their match against the Kings in Port Elizabeth and could not be contacted.

"We thought there was a good chance he wouldn't renew [his contract] because there is a lot of heat in our market at the moment," Clark added.

Ellison, 30, has played four tests for the All Blacks. He played one test in 2009 before signing for Ricoh in 2010. He returned last year to join the Highlanders and earned three test caps on last year's northern tour.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has already lost another proven midfielder, Richard Kahui, to Japan.

The future of Conrad Smith, the All Blacks' incumbent centre, has also been open to speculation following several concussions.

The latest, against the Bulls in Pretoria last weekend, left the Hurricanes captain unconscious for several minutes and increased concerns that the 31-year-old will not play through to the 2015 World Cup.

The mediocre form of Ma'a Nonu, another midfielder, is also a worry.

The Blues' Rene Ranger, who played three tests in 2010, could back-up Smith but is mulling over an option to play for French club Montpellier.

Ellison's move is likely to enhance Highlanders' teammate Ben Smith's value to Hansen.

The return from the NRL of Sonny Bill Williams, who has indicated he could be back at the Chiefs as early as next year, would also ease the pressure for Hansen.

Ad Feedback

- The Press

Special offers
Opinion poll

Which rugby player would you be most inclined to bend selection rules for?

Dan Carter

Sonny Bill Williams

Kieran Read

Richie McCaw

Julian Savea

Ben Smith

Ma'a Nonu

Conrad Smith

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content