Super Rugby
Tony Woodcock poised to leave Highlanders
September 18, 2013
New Zealand's Richie McCaw and Tony Woodcock hold the Bledisloe Cup, New Zealand v Australia, Bledisloe Cup, The Rugby Championship, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, August 24, 2013
Tony Woodcock recently won his 100th Test cap © Getty Images

Tony Woodcock is the latest All Blacks player set to quit the Highlanders, the prop seeking to end his stay in Dunedin one year into a two-year Super Rugby contract.

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph said on Wednesday that Woodcock, 32, wanted to return to his family farm north of Auckland as his father was struggling with a back problem. Woodcock now seems likely to rejoin the Blues, for whom he played 113 games during 10 seasons before shifting south this year.

Joseph is looking to rebuild his squad after the loss of several senior players. On Tuesday, he announced that 2013 Highlanders captain and All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore would not be offered a new contract as he looked to promote younger players.

Other players who will not return in 2014 are prop Jamie Mackintosh (Chiefs), fly-half Colin Slade (Crusaders), centre Tamati Ellison (Melbourne Rebels) and wingers Hosea Gear (France) and Kade Poki (Japan). Ma'a Nonu also seems unlikely to return after the All Blacks centre did not respond to the franchise's most recent contract offer.

The five New Zealand Super Rugby squads are finalised in November.

Tony Woodcock and the Highlanders were disappointing during the 2013 Super Rugby season © Getty Images

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