Wing Patrick Osborne is keen to run Red-hot

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 30/05/2014
Patrick Osborne
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PATRICK OSBORNE: "It's a bit different [at the Highlanders]. I didn't feel needed at the other two franchises and I've been welcomed here."

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Highlanders wing Patrick Osborne has been making Super Rugby look easy this season but he has been doing it tough this week.

The southerly blast that blanketed parts of Dunedin in snow, and the gale-force winds that sent temperatures plummeting, have been a challenge for the flying Fijian.

Despite spending several seasons in Christchurch, Osborne has never been colder than he was at training this week.

He has been wearing two hoodies and was looking forward to getting to Brisbane on Wednesday, not only for a crack at the Reds tonight, but also to see a bit of sun. Don't take that to mean he is not enjoying his time in the south, however.

After seasons with the Crusaders and Chiefs, Osborne has been a revelation for the Highlanders. He has provided pace and power on the flank in a season that has been slightly truncated by a persistent high ankle sprain.

"It's a bit different [at the Highlanders]. I didn't feel needed at the other two franchises and I've been welcomed here," Osborne said. "My family love it down here and everything is falling into place."

Osborne will be back at Forsyth Barr Stadium next season and is considering a permanent shift to Dunedin, where he has been living with his wife and 2-year-old son.

The couple are expecting a baby girl in October.

Osborne, 26, has two more years left on his national provincial championship contract with Canterbury after initially joining their academy. He had hoped to sign with Otago last year but, after the union procrastinated, he opted to stick with Canterbury.

The input of Highlanders conditioner Andrew Beardmore and the team's unofficial strength coach Brad Thorn have helped Osborne reach new heights with his game.

"I think I'm more focused here," he said. "I'm the strongest I've been in my life, probably the fittest as well. [Thorn] is getting the boys doing PBs every week, so that's really good."

Osborne has been a part of the Fiji sevens squad in the past but has had to put his international ambitions on hold. To be selected in the Canterbury academy he had to forgo selection for Fiji and, now that he is with the Highlanders, he has made himself unavailable because the franchise has already filled its quota of overseas players.

Despite that, Osborne would love to play in next year's World Cup. After the NPC, he will have surgery to correct bone spurs which have been causing those recurring ankle sprains, but for now he will settle for a bit of sun and a win over the Reds as the Highlanders head into the June test window.

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"At the beginning of the season no-one really expected too much of us and look where we are," he said. "The rugby pundits were saying we'd be last placed in New Zealand and we've proved them wrong."

- The Southland Times

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