Bruce Reihana returning to New Zealand in 2005

Reihana, an All Black during 1999 and 2000, will also re-join Waikato under a new contract, which runs until the end of 2007.

�I am looking forward to getting back into rugby in New Zealand and it is also great for my family to be moving back home, and to be back with our extended family,� said Reihana, who turned down a highly lucrative contract offer to remain in Europe.

�I have really enjoyed the competition here in the UK and the experience it has given me,� he said.

�But I am also a very proud New Zealander, and the opportunity to re-join some of my old provincial and Super 12 team mates, along with the possibility of playing in an All Blacks jersey again, was too hard to resist.�

Reihana was named 2003-2004 PRA Players� Player of the Year and has won numerous other accolades during his time in Europe.

New Zealand Rugby Union Deputy Chief Executive Steve Tew says securing players such as Bruce Reihana is a great boost to New Zealand rugby.

�To have a player of Bruce�s calibre return to New Zealand and bring his experience and talent back to New Zealand rugby is a real win.

�It also sends a strong message that despite the economic advantages, which are available to our players overseas, there are wider benefits for players who choose to play their rugby here.�

Both All Blacks coach Graham Henry and assistant coach Wayne Smith acknowledged the importance of having players of his quality playing in New Zealand.

�Bruce is a class player and his international experience and versatility will be a real asset to our Rebel Sport Super 12 and provincial teams. Based on his form in Europe, we will also be interested to see him return to rugby here from an All Blacks selection standpoint,� said Wayne Smith, who coached Reihana for two seasons at Northampton.

Steve Tew said the question of Reihana�s eligibility for All Blacks selection for the Lions Series and other winter tests in 2005, would be subject to approval from the NZRU Board and could be considered once Reihana was resident in New Zealand.

Waikato Rugby Union Chief Executive Gary Dawson also welcomed the decision which will see Reihana pull on a Waikato jersey again in 2005.

�It is fantastic to have Bruce back as part of the Mooloo community. He has made a huge contribution already to Waikato rugby and we are looking forward to welcoming him back.�