Ex AB Jimmy Cowan signs with Tasman Makos
Former All Black Jimmy Cowan is set to rekindle his New Zealand playing career with the Tasman Makos after confirming a one-year deal with the Tasman union.
The former All Blacks, Highlanders and Southland halfback officially signed with Tasman last Friday and now joins Billy Guyton as the Makos' two halfbacks for this season's NPC campaign.
Cowan returned home only 11 days ago from a two-year stint with English club Gloucester and facing an uncertain playing future.
Having worked with Tasman head coach Kieran Keane previously at the Highlanders franchise, where Keane was an assistant coach, a call from Keane saw an opportunity to join the Makos quickly gather momentum, resulting in Friday's decision.
Cowan had also been a former All Blacks team mate of Tasman assistant coach Leon MacDonald.
"I'd negotiated with Southland also but obviously they've got a new coaching regime down there now and with their contracted players, they've already got two nines," Cowan said.
While the door hadn't closed with Southland, the Tasman offer - and an opportunity to work with both Keane and MacDonald - proved irresistable.
"I've played under KK [Keane] and I like the way he looks at a game and breaks the game down. He's got some great ideas and I've been watching [Tasman] over the last 12 months and they play a very attractive game of rugby.
"They've got a great culture and all the boys are buying into what they're trying to do. I've chatted briefly with KK about the style he wants to play and I think it's right up my alley, so I'm looking forward to getting up there and adding my bit to it."
The 32-year-old halfback achieved the rare feat of playing 51 tests for the All Blacks and 100 games for both the Highlanders and Southland ahead of joining Gloucester in 2012.
But he hasn't made any commitment about the possibility of chasing another Super Rugby contract.
"To be fair, I haven't looked that far ahead. My short term focus is with the ITM Cup and once that concludes, I'll reassess where I'm going. We'll see what happens."
However, Cowan's already noted with obvious interest Tasman's clash with Southland in Invercargill on September 17.
"It happens nowdays and it's part and parcel of the game with people moving on and so forth. But I'll just treat it like any other game and look forward to it," he said.
"I'm representing the Tasman jersey now and I'll be putting all my energies towards that."
As for Keane, the respect is mutual between player and coach.
"Jimmy's been successful in all levels of New Zealand rugby, he's been a very good servant and it fitted for us," Keane said.
"So we just sat down and had a big discussion about how it could work and I'm just really pleased that it was able to be worked through and that we've secured him.
"I'm particularly pleased about it. I think he'll do a fantastic job in our team and he'll bring an element that we were looking for.
"I've got a lot of faith in Jimmy and he's an exceptional guy and a warrior on the field - and that's what I was looking for. So it was a no-brainer for me."
Tasman chief executive Tony Lewis said that Cowan's signing was all part of the process towards establishing a strong allround squad.
"Jimmy offers, not only fantastic playing and leadership credentials, but also that ability to give us allround strength in the match day squad," Lewis said.
"I think we've done bloody well to secure him and I take my hat off the the coaches who have explored every possibility. It just shows from a Tasman rugby perspective that people want to come and play for us and it's a bloody good signing."
- The Nelson Mail
What did you make of this year's ITM Cup?