Woodcock to 'freshen up' career at Highlanders
MIKE HOULAHAN IN DUNEDIN
A move south to join the Highlanders is a step towards making the next Rugby World Cup, veteran All Blacks prop Tony Woodcock says.
Having played 113 games for the Blues, the news Woodcock was heading south came as something of a surprise.
Yesterday, at his future Dunedin home base on All Blacks duty, Woodcock, 31, said he hoped the shift would reinvigorate his rugby career. "For me it's about a change and a new challenge that will hopefully spark me to play longer," he said.
"Obviously the goal is to stay in New Zealand . . . it's a change of scenery; I'm attracted by the way the Highlanders run things down here and determined to give it a good crack.
"I definitely want to play the 2015 Rugby World Cup and I think it's an achievable goal.
"Part of that is coming down here, freshening up, moving into a new environment and a new set-up. It's exciting."
Woodcock has signed a two-year deal with the Highlanders and said the aggressive, physical style of forward play coach Jamie Joseph had introduced to the franchise was part of the appeal in transferring.
"From the outside looking in, I like the style they play and obviously the way Jamie runs things, so decided to get involved with it.
"I've met him once and he seemed a pretty straight-up kind of guy. What you see is what you get," Woodcock said.
With the needs of two young children to consider, coming south was not an easy decision to make, Woodcock said. "It was definitely a hard decision. I've been there 10 seasons or so and a 100-odd games and enjoying every minute but I think it's the right decision for me, my family and my rugby as well."
The front row should be a strength for the Highlanders next season, with Southland captain Jamie Mackintosh and All Black hooker Andrew Hore in the squad.
Joseph said he was excited by the prospect of adding Woodcock to the mix. "Tony is a world-class loosehead prop and his ability and experience will add a huge amount to our squad and leadership. Tony is also a good fit for the Highlanders and I know he is looking forward to moving his family to Dunedin to set up home in the South."
Highlanders fans should get an early look at the franchise's new star signing in Saturday's test against the Springboks at Dunedin's new, roofed Forsyth Barr Stadium. After enduring a chilly night in Wellington last Saturday against Argentina, Woodcock was looking forward to a sheltered environment and a physical battle against the old foe.
"At points it was really bad; guys were passing the ball and the wind was blowing it all over the place," he said. "They [the Springboks] will come with a real physical presence because they know that's what works for them.
"We know what to expect."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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