Highlanders and Ellison confirm Japan move


James Mortimer     12 May 2013     getty

Ellison signed a two-year deal with the Highlanders and New Zealand Rugby after returning from Japan and club Ricoh, and returned in such form that he made the All Blacks, and was a strong chance to do so again this season, despite having an injury disrupted Super Rugby campaign.

The 30-year-old played three Tests in last year's end of year tour to add to his sole international appearance in 2009, and with the All Blacks facing a midfield dilemma, this latest news won't be ideal to the selectors, who now have little choice but to blood new faces in the centres against France.

Highlanders general manager Roger Clark last night confirmed Ellison's deal via Fairfax Media.

"This is no surprise to us. He had a two-year deal with us and we have just found out that he has notified the NZRU that he will terminate early," Clark said.

"We thought there was a good chance he wouldn't renew."

With Ellison heading back to Ricoh, there is some real headscratching forming over the All Blacks 12 and 13 combination.

Ma'a Nonu seems likely to be the only fit incumbent for the Steinlager Series, but has been struggling with minor injuries and form.

Richard Kahui, like Ellison, confirmed a move to Japan earlier this year, and while it is believed injury could compromise that deal, he won't be wearing All Blacks colours against France.

Leadership group member Conrad Smith suffered another episode of concussion, and while he might play during the Steinlager Series, is not expected to suit up for action at the end of the year.