Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Still a country for old legs

Cory Jane is continuing to consign Nehe Milner-Skudder to fullback. Photo / Getty
Cory Jane is continuing to consign Nehe Milner-Skudder to fullback. Photo / Getty

An oldie but still a goodie.

Every New Zealand franchise thinks so with a number of players on their rosters who have blown out 30 candles.

None are likely to match the old warrior Brad Thorn who was 39 years and 67 days when he played his final Super rugby game for the Highlanders against the Bulls.

It's also hard to believe there will be anyone younger than James O'Connor who was 17 years 288 days when he ran out for the Force against the Reds in the 2008 start to his tempestuous career.

Tournament organisers decided to dispense with handbooks several years ago and distribute details electronically about players and franchise staff. This season that information is still churning its way through cyberspace so this is data to the best of our knowledge.

Highlanders: The champions have retained 34-year-old lock Alex Ainley in their squad after he proved an asset to the squad in his maiden year. After stints with Tasman he left to play in Italy and Japan but returned in 2014 and won his Super rugby callup.

Crusaders: Loosehead prop Wyatt Crockett has figured in a mountain of games as he heads into his 11th season. He turned 33 last month but remains one of the hardest-working and keenest members of the squad.

Hurricanes: Wily competitor and mega-skilled, Cory Jane is on the right wing for the Canes opening game, pushing All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder to fullback. Jane is 33 and has extended his contract to the end of 2017.

Chiefs: Port Waikato's most famous whitebaiter Stephen Donald is 32 and back after an overseas stint in the UK and Japan. He will mentor Aaron Cruden, Damian McKenzie and others and also provide a strong hand when needed.

Blues: Captain Jerome Kaino is 32 and spending a week in the naughty chair after a trial game explosion. He should return in the second game against the Crusaders when rival skipper Kieran Read is also expected to begin his season.

- NZ Herald

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