Highlanders a godsend for Richard Buckman

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 11/04/2014
Richard Buckman
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
RICHARD BUCKMAN: "Was pretty good at holding a hit-pad by the end of three years, so it's been great to come down here and get a chance."

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Richard Buckman says he got very good at holding hit-pads during a three-year stint with the Hurricanes wider training squad.

He headed south this year to join the Highlanders, intitially as part of the organisation's wider training squad.

He had originally prepared himself to yet again spend lots of time holding hit-pads, with the hope of getting a shot later in the season.

Instead, through some good pre-season form and the unavailabilty of other players, Buckman has made a rapid rise and stepped out of the shadows at the Highlanders and into the starting lineup on a regular basis.

"I was floating around at the Hurricanes for three years, so it was a long time really. was pretty good at holding a hit-pad by the end of three years, so it's been great to come down here and get a chance."

Throughout the opening rounds, he's headed off the likes of Patrick Osborne and Kurt Baker for a spot starting on the wing, which highlights just how far he has come. The 24-year-old from Napier said there were some subtle differences between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders.

"I think we're probably a bit more physical down here, we do a lot more work and there are a few more trainings to get everything right, so it's good," he said.

"It's not going too bad at the moment, I've still got a bit of work to do on attack and, hopefully, I can score a try one of these days. I think wingers are supposed to do that, so, hopefully, it comes my way soon."

While it has been an encouraging start for Buckman at the Highlanders, the challenge is expected to get that bit more intense tonight as he eyes a Bulls team that he thinks will provide him with the biggest test to date.

Buckman has impressed with his ability in the air and is expecting a lot more of the high ball tonight.

"I've grown into it but I think we're going to be targeted with these South African teams that love the old high ball, so we're expecting a barrage."

Buckman felt the current contracting format, where he can stick with his beloved Hawke's Bay in the provincial ranks but head elsewhere in the country to chase Super Rugby opportunities, was ideal.

"I wouldn't really want to play for anyone else but Hawke's Bay, but to get an opportunity to play for a franchise down here is a great opportunity for me."

Buckman is signed for Hawke's Bay for the next two seasons.

Highlanders vs Bulls, 7.35 tonight, Dunedin

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HIGHLANDERS: Ben Smith (co-captain), Richard Buckman, Malakai Fekitoa, Shaun Treeby, Patrick Osborne, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Elliot Dixon, Shane Christie, Gareth Evans, Joe Wheeler, Brad Thorn, Chris King, Liam Coltman, Kane Hames. Reserves: Ged Robinson, Craig Millar, Ma'afu Fia, Jarrad Hoeata, John Hardie, Fumiaki Tanaka, Trent Renata, Nasi Manu (co-captain

BULLS: Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Grant Hattingh, Jacques du Plessis, Jono Ross, Victor Matfield, Flip van der Merwe (captain), Werner Kruger, Callie Visagie, Dean Greyling. Reserves: Bongi Mbonambi, Marcel vd Merwe, Paul Willemse, Jacques Engelbrecht, Piet van Zyl, Handre Pollard, William Small-Smith, Morne Mellet

Referee: Rohan Hoffman

- The Southland Times

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