The Highlanders have lost All Blacks prop Tyrel Lomax to the Hurricanes, according to a report from Stuff.
The one-test international made his debut for New Zealand last year against Japan in Tokyo, and has been in strong form for the Highlanders in his second year for the franchise since joining from the Rebels at the end of 2017.
However, Lomax’s partner has accepted a job offer in Wellington, meaning the 22-year-old will follow her to the capital, thus bringing his two-year stint in Dunedin to an end.
Lomax has strong ties to Wellington, as he was raised and played rugby league there after being born in Canberra to former Kiwis rugby league captain John Lomax.
As a teenager, he went back to the Australian capital where he pursued a rugby union career, which led him to represent Australia U20s in 2015 and 2016 while also being named in an extended 48-man Wallabies squad by Michael Cheika in 2017, but New Zealand Rugby lured him back across the ditch later that year to play for the Highlanders and Tasman in the Mitre 10 Cup.
Lomax becomes one of many high-profile players to exit the Highlanders, leaving them severely undermanned ahead of the 2020 Super Rugby campaign.
Fellow All Blacks Ben Smith (Pau), Waisake Naholo (London Irish), Liam Squire (NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes), Jackson Hemopo (Mitsubishi DynaBoars) and Luke Whitelock (Pau) have all confirmed their departures, while experienced utility back Matt Faddes (Ulster) is also heading to Europe.
It is also believed three-test All Black Elliot Dixon will be cashing in on the two-seasons-in-one concept in the Japanese Top League next year alongside Highlanders teammates Marty Banks, Richard Buckman and Tom Franklin, despite having signed a contract with the Highlanders last year that would have seen him play Super Rugby in 2020.
News of Lomax’s exit comes a day after the Highlanders announced the return of former star first-five, assistant and head coach Tony Brown from the Sunwolves and Japanese national side in a yet-to-be-determined coaching role.
Highlanders CEO Roger Clark indicated both yesterday during the announcement of Brown’s signing and today to Stuff that the announcements of new player signings for next year would be made in the coming weeks, with many believed to be players from the New Zealand U20 and All Blacks Sevens sides, including youngsters Jona Nareki and Scott Gregory.
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