Veainu gives region slip for Super season
Teenage Canterbury wing Telusa Veainu is heading for the Highlanders.
New Highlanders general manager Roger Clark did not respond to a request for comment yesterday and the Canterbury Rugby Union referred comment to the Highlanders.
But The Press understands Veainu, 19, will play his Super 15 rugby for the southern franchise then return to Canterbury for the NPC.
Veainu, who played for Canterbury against Waikato in Hamilton last night, has scored seven tries in his rookie representative season and won his Canterbury blazer after his 12th appearance against Counties Manukau last week.
The 1.80m, 85kg, wing sprang to Super 15 teams' attention after an outstanding tournament for the gold medal winning New Zealand under-20 team in Argentina where he scored five tries, including three in the final.
The fleet-footed Veainu, a former St Andrew's College student who plays club rugby for Sydenham, is regarded as a bright prospect.
But the Crusaders have a logjam in the outside backs division with All Black Israel Dagg joining his Hawke's Bay team-mate Zac Guildford and Sean Maitland in Christchurch next season. Adam Whitelock, who has not featured in the NPC this year after injury, and Tasman's Kade Poki were also in last year's Crusaders squad.
The shift south is a smart move for Veainu, who is bound to get more game time with the Highlanders rather than spend a second season in the Crusaders' development squad.
Veainu is the sixth member of the Canterbury team to declare himself a non-starter for the Crusaders. Prop Peter Borlase is off to Ireland to join Munster in the Celtic League, All Blacks first five-eighth Colin Slade and No8 Nasi Manu are also joining the Highlanders. Stephen Brett is returning to Auckland for a second season with the Blues and lock Isaac Ross has been snapped up by the Chiefs.
The Highlanders, who have lost Dagg to the Crusaders, had former Canterbury player James Paterson, Fetu'u Vainikolo and 2009 All Black Ben Smith on the wings for 2010's Super competition.