Experienced heads return to New Zealand for 2018 Mitre 10 Cup

Experienced heads return to New Zealand for 2018 Mitre 10 Cup
Ahead of the 2018 Mitre 10 Cup, we take a look at the biggest names returning to New Zealand to feature in New Zealand's premier provisional competition. 
Thomas Waldrom - Wellington
The 35-year-old veteran loose forward returns to New Zealand having enjoyed a stellar career in England's top flight. 
Waldrom made 4 appearances for England and spent the last eight seasons in England, the first four with the Leicester Tigers and the last four with the Exeter Chiefs whom he helped become one of the success stories of the Premiership. Nicknamed 'Thomas the Tank Engine', Waldrom will represent his home province of Wellington having also represented the Hurricanes and Crusaders in Super Rugby and Hawke's Bay at the provincial level.
Rene Ranger - Northland
Ranger has once again returned to New Zealand after a relatively unsuccessful spell with La Rochelle. Ranger formed one of the deadliest midfield partnerships with Jack Goodhue last season but is likely to lose his centre partner to the All Blacks squad for the majority of the competition. The hard-hitting, strong ball carrying utility back will look to once ignite his career in the Blue jersey. 
James Wilson - Southland

Returning to South for the first time since 2011, James Wilson spent time in France, playing 17 times for Bourgoin before starting a six-season, 95-game stint with Northampton Saints, which included a Premiership title and European Challenge Cup win in 2014 before being called on by Bath coach Todd Blackadder for 13 games this year. 
The 65-cap Southland veteran enjoyed a stellar season with Bath and will look to bring that form to the Stags who have struggled in recent times.
Tanerau Latimer - Bay of Plenty 

32-year-old flanker Tanerau Latimer returns to New Zealand having spent time with Bayonne in France and a stint in Japan.
The 5-Test cap All Black was one the many openside flankers whose test career was hampered by Richie McCaw's stronghold on the All Blacks 7 jersey. 
Latimer did represent the Chiefs in over 100 Super Rugby matches and returns New Zealand to end his playing career and moving onto his latest venture as kiwi farmer. 
Brendon Leonard - Taranaki

Leonard is another All Black returning to New Zealand to end his playing career. The 33-year-old former Chief spent the past five years playing for Italian club Zebre (three seasons) and Welsh side Ospreys (two seasons).
In addition to playing 13 tests, Leonard notched 73 Super Rugby matches for the Chiefs and 64 caps for Waikato. 

Leonard will provide cover for Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, who is currently with the All Blacks squad and will bring a considerable amount of experience to young Naki side that will look to defend the Ranfurly Shield. He will also be tasked with helping to develop young Xavier Roe.

Notable Mentions: Jack Whetton, Jack Debreczeni, Jarrad Hoeata, Lifemi Mafi and Sikeli Nabou

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