Barney is back with the Stags

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 13/08/2013
Bryan Milne
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
HE'S BACK: Bryan Milne has earned his place in the Southland rugby team.

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His nickname might be Barney, but that hardly makes him a dinosaur.

There's no getting around the fact, however, that Bryan Milne's return to the Southland rugby team eight years after his previous appearance and 10 years after he was previously contracted to Rugby Southland, has a bit of the heartwarming fairytale about it.

Stags coach David Henderson admitted it has been a long time between drinks for the Pirates-Old Boys stalwart, although his form meant he couldn't be ignored.

"It's [been] a long time, but he's deserved it this time around - played good club rugby, played well against the Highlanders and he's got to step up over the next couple of weeks," Henderson said.

Milne was a schoolboy rugby star from Menzies College, a South Island under-18 representative two years running, when he played outside Dan Carter and Brendon McCullum.

He was part of a New Zealand under-19 team in 2001 that included Jimmy Cowan, Adam Thomson and Joe Rokocoko, winning a world title off the bench when he replaced Ben Atiga, and the following year he made his debut for the Stags and spent a bit of time on the World Cup sevens circuit with Gordon Tietjens' New Zealand team.

Arthritis would affect his rugby career for the next few seasons, meaning he managed only 28 games for Southland by the time he left to play for a second division team in Italy in 2005.

After seasons there, and in England and France, he returned home, where he works as an account manager for the Radio Network. His boss Elgan O'Donnell is also his Southland sevens coach.

It was Milne's inclusion in the Southland team for its best-ever national sevens tournament in January that has helped to revive his midfield career with the Stags.

"I would have to say I've probably trained the hardest I've ever trained, my body is in the best shape it's ever been and that brings its rewards," Milne said last week.

"I'm just starting to find my feet again and we'll see how we go from there. It's been a very long time since I thought I'd be at this stage.

"I've been training really well and when you train well and feel good in your body, good results can come from it. We had a good club season, so I just feel really good."

Milne said his employers had been supportive of his rugby ambitions.

"It's the sort of job you can do from your phone, offsite. I've got really supportive clients, they know what sort of demands are there and they love the Stags. Southland's a good bunch of people like that."

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- The Southland Times

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