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Highlanders sign ex-England flyhalf Freddie Burns

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

The Highlanders have signed former England flyhalf Freddie Burns from Leicester Tigers, who have released the playmaker mid-season.

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Burns has agreed terms with the Highlanders and “with the support of Leicester” will land in New Zealand in time for the first round of Super Rugby Pacific.

Leicester Tigers said in a statement they “have agreed terms with Freddie Burns for an early release from his contract with the club to pursue an opportunity in Super Rugby” with the Highlanders.

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Burns has made 114 appearances for Leicester, during two stints, and scored 794 points.

He made his Tigers debut in 2014 after joining from Gloucester Rugby and scored 603 points in three seasons, as well as featuring in the 2017 Anglo-Welsh Cup winning campaign, before departing for Bath ahead of the 2017/18 season.

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

“This decision is not one I have made lightly and has been unbelievably hard.”

“It’s hard to put into words what Leicester Tigers and what this group of players means to me. I can’t single out one thing that I’ll miss the most, I will miss everything about being a part of this club.”

“At this stage in my career, the opportunity was one I saw as too good to turn down and go down to gain this experience on the field as well as the life experience of living and playing in New Zealand.

“Now, for me, is the right time to move on and I am so grateful to Wiggy, the board and everyone at the club in allowing me to make this next step in my career.

“I leave with a heavy heart but will be giving my all until I leave Leicester Tigers.”

“It’s the supporters for me that make this club so great,” he said.

“I have always felt such a special relationship with Leicester Tigers fans. They are the one constant at the club and to have felt that warmth from them, in both my stints here, is something I will never forget.

“The commitment from the fans, whether it’s home sellouts or travelling support, is just unrivalled with any club I have played for in my career

“I’ll forever be bound to Leicester Tigers as not just a player but a supporter.”

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Highlanders Head Coach Clarke Dermody has welcomed the arrival of the seasoned veteran.

“Having a player of Freddie’s calibre 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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A former England U20 representative he represented the senior side five times most notably debuting against the All Blacks in 2012, replacing Owen Farrell, in their 38-21 victory.

Burns will be the second international back to be added to Dermody’s 2023 squad with Argentinian outside back Martin Bogado also set to play in Highlanders colours.

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