Rugby: Former England number 10 Freddie Burns signs with Highlanders

Freddie Burns of England kicks a penalty against the All Blacks in 2014. Photosport

The Highlanders have signed ex-England first-five Freddie Burns for this year’s Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

Burns, who played five tests for England including three against the All Blacks, will join the southern-most franchise in time for round one next month.

He has been released by Leicester to take up the contract.

A prolific goal kicker and tactically sound first-five, who can also play fullback, he was the toast of Leicester when he dropkicked the winning goal for the Tigers against Saracens in the 2022 Gallagher Premiership final.

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“As a young man I grew up watching Super Rugby in the early hours of the morning. To have the opportunity to represent such a prestigious club as the Highlanders in the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season is a huge honor. I look forward to getting started and adding to the group both on and off the field,” Burns said.

Burns will be the second international back to be added to the Highlanders this season with Argentinian outside back Martin Bogado also in the squad.

Highlanders Head Coach Clarke Dermody said the signing of Burns means they can avoid the situation they were in last season when their first-five stocks got low,

“Having a player of Freddie’s caliber available to us in such a crucial position is a real boost for the squad. Last year we were exposed at 10 due to a run of injuries and while we covered the situation, we were asking a lot of Sam Gilbert and Vili Koroi who are not regular starting first-fives. Freddie’s arrival will provide us with that extra insurance against that scenario playing out again in 2023”.

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