Super Rugby
Colin Slade quits Highlanders for Crusaders
ESPN Staff
October 25, 2013
Colin Slade will be on the bench for Canterbury in the ITM Cup Premiership final © Getty Images

Colin Slade has re-signed with the Crusaders, to replace Dan Carter as the All Blacks great takes a six-month sabbatical, joining Tyler Bleyendaal and Tom Taylor as playmaking options after three years with the Highanders.

But he refused to add to the criticism of Highlanders coach James Joseph, who has seen All Blacks Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock, Ma'a Nonu, Jamie Mackintosh, Hosea Gear and Slade leave after a shocking Super Rugby 2013 season, saying instead "it was always my intention to come home".

"I really liked Dunedin and enjoyed my time down there," Slade told Fairfax Media when asked about reports of Joseph's intense regime. "It was a really tough year. It wasn't an easy decision but ultimately it was where I thought I would play my best rugby and under these coaches [at the Crusaders], I suppose, I have done it in the past."

Slade moved from the Crusaders in 2011, after two seasons in Christchurch, because then All Blacks coach Graham Henry wanted him to move out of Carter's shadow to gain more game time ahead of Rugby World Cup 2011.

"I was only going down [to the Highlanders] for a year or two, and ended up staying for three," Slade said. "It was always my intention to come home, I love Christchurch. But I'm not just here for next year. I am wanting to stay as long as I am being picked and playing well."

Slade, meanwhile, has recently recovered from a knee injury, sustained against Wellington on September 21, and he has been named on Canterbury's replacements bench for the ITM Cup Premiership final against the Lions on Saturday. "The positive thing was that it wasn't anything structural. It was a medial ligament and a bit of bruising on the knee as well," Slade told Fairfax."

Slade is the only player from the 2008 Canterbury run-on team, which started their streak of five consecutive titles, to be named for the final. He also played in the 2009 and 2010 final-winning teams but missed the next two because of Rugby World Cup 2011 and injury.

Follow live text commentary of the ITM Cup Premiership final between Wellington Lions and Canterbury on Saturday, October 26 from 7pm (NZDT), 5pm (AEDT) and 6am (GMT)

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