A report from the Otago Daily Times states that the 35-year-old, who played one test for the All Blacks against Scotland and a mid-week match against Munster in 2008, has returned to New Zealand from the United States after the coronavirus pandemic cut short the 2020 Major League Rugby season.
Plying his trade for the Austin Gilgronis alongside fellow one-cap All Black Frank Halai, Mackintosh made just three appearances for the Texas club before the season was cancelled in March.
The report indicates that the former Highlanders captain has since relocated to Dunedin and has been helping out the Otago squad in training ahead of the Mitre 10 Cup campaign, which is due to kick-off in September.
While he hasn’t signed a contract with the provincial union, it is believed Mackintosh is still eager to prolong his playing career, and would likely turn out in the local club competition in Dunedin, according to the ODT.
That could lead to a call-up to the Otago squad, provided he plays well enough, Otago Rugby Football Union general manager Richard Kinley said.
Such a move would be a disappointment for Southland fans, given Mackintosh’s stature within the Southland region.
The burly front rower played a total of 123 games for the Stags between 2004 and 2015, and played a vital role in leading them to their first Ranfurly Shield success in 50 years when they defeated Canterbury in 2009.
He also was part of the squad that re-captured the Log o’ Wood off Canterbury once more two years later, and made 67 appearances for the Highlanders between 2007 and 2013.
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In the five years since, he has played in the now-defunct PRO Rugby competition in the United States for the Ohio Aviators and for French side Pau, as well as the Gilgronis.
Should Mackintosh play for Otago in this season’s Mitre 10 Cup, it would echo the move made by his former Highlanders and All Blacks teammate Adam Thomson last year.
After seven years away from New Zealand rugby, the 38-year-old loose forward made a miraculous comeback from a spinal infection to return to action for Otago in the 2019 Mitre 10 Cup.
So good were his performances under the roof of Forsyth Barr Stadium that he won a spot in the Chiefs’ squad ahead of this year’s Super Rugby campaign as an injury replacement player.
Thomson has since gone on to make one appearance for the Hamilton franchise against the Sunwolves in Tokyo back in February, and has been named to start from the bench in Saturday’s Super Rugby Aotearoa clash with the Blues.
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