Zebre Rugby have announced the signing of New Zealand scrum-half Joshua Renton who has joined the Parma-based franchise from the Highlanders in Super Rugby.

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Renton rates as the 218th best scrumhalf in World Rugby, and will rank 52nd in the Pro14.

Born and raised in Dunedin, the 24-year-old player started playing rugby in his hometown high school, the Otago Boys High School, becoming captain of the team in his final year.

His professional career began in the local Otago team, debuting in the Mitre10 Cup in 2013, against local Southland rivals. In 2014 he took part in the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in New Zealand, representing his national team with 4 appearances.

After impressing for the local team, the Highlanders called him into the training squad for the 2015 season, making his debut in the eleventh Round against the Brumbies. During his first year in the tournament, he was able to learn from several All Blacks such as Aaron and Ben Smith, Naholo, Fekitoa, Sopoaga and the Japanese international Tanaka.

In his second year, after 3 appearances, an injury forced Renton to skip the entire season but the new coach Tony Brown confirmed him in the 2017 Super Rugby squad for the Highlanders. His last season in New Zealand ended a few weeks ago, with the defeat in the Mitre10 Championship final on October 13th in Hamilton against Wakaito.

In his career, he has 43 appearances in the Mitre10 Cup and a total of 8 in Super Rugby with the Highlanders, with whom he also played a prestigious friendly against the British & Irish Lions on tour in New Zealand in 2017.

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Zebre team manager Andrea De Rossi: “The injury to Italian international Violi forced us to return to the market, and we are very happy to have found a player of the same level.

“The deal was quick and simple; Renton showed immediately a great desire to get involved in this challenge, signing up until the end of the season with the option of staying in Italy also for the 2019-20 season. He arrives from a great kiwi province like Otago and has good experience behind him; he is a dynamic player with very good skills. We are happy with this new signing, especially because he’s a player ready to play for Zebre”.

Renton, speaking a Zebre player: “First I want to thank my family and the Otago and Highlanders clubs who have allowed me to take my first opportunity in Europe.

“I’m just looking to play rugby in a different part of the world: I just want to play fast rugby and help the Zebre boys as much as I can. The Guinness PRO14 is an exciting competition, it fascinates me the idea of being able to face great teams from different countries of the world. I know some former Zebre players, including the All Blacks Leonard and Muliaina. I want to thank my new club for this opportunity and I look forward to making myself available to the team and to repay this trust”.

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Player Factfile:

Joshua Renton

Born in:Dunedin (NZL)

Date of birth: May 25, 1994

Height:174 cm

Weight:82 kg

Role: Scrum-half

Honours: Junior All Blacks

Former clubs: Otago Rugby Football Union (NZL), Highlanders (NZL)

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