The wrecking ball Rene Ranger is all set to return to New Zealand rugby later this year after he was granted an early release from his contract at Montpellier. He has played in France for two seasons, but wants to return home to spend more time with his family.
The explosive Ranger will return to the Blues and Super Rugby in 2016, but will be available for North Harbour in the ITM Cup this year. The dynamic 28-year-old back has scored 25 tries in 65 Super Rugby appearances for the Blues. He has also been capped six times by the All Blacks, an indication of the kind of talent they’ve had in the backs in recent years.
For Montpellier he’s scored six tries in 15 Top 14 matches, but feels it’s not time to return to New Zealand, with family being the primary reason for the early release request.
“Family comes first and that is the big motivator to return. I want to be able to help my Mum more,” Ranger said, and added that chosing the Blues as a destination was an easy decision to make.
“I started my Super career with them and they have always been close to me. JK (Blues coach Sir John Kirwan) has always backed me and motivated me to be my best,” he said.
He was excited about the prospect of returning to a team he believed was on the improve.
“They are a quality side, but execution is letting them down so far. Hopefully I can play a positive role because backs get excited with the sort of front-foot ball the Blues are getting.
“I will come home a better rugby player. I am mentally stronger and I’ve learned a lot that I can bring back into the Blues environment.”
Kirwan said Ranger’s return would bolster the team with star-quality on the field and a fan-favourite off it. “Rene made his mark on the game in this country as a remarkable attacking player, always able to break tackles, often when there was nothing on.
“His experience in Europe will have helped further round his skills and add to his experience. With the likes of Charles Piutau, it will give us a potent attacking unit,” Kirwan said.
North Harbour gains Ranger
Ranger will return to New Zealand after his commitments in Europe, and will join North Harbour for the ITM Cup. While Ranger said he remained a Northlander at heart, the key to his decision was the desire for his family to be based in one place.
“Last time I travelled from Northland and lived on my own. Our family wants to be together in one place and from that point, I have decided to play for North Harbour.
“They are a young team trying to build and that is something new and challenging for me.”
Ranger will return midyear to ready himself for the ITM Cup with North Harbour.
Ranger has been a favourite here on RD for some time now. View some of his finer moments in the Related Posts below this post, featuring some huge hits, charges, naughty moments and a funny celebration. Directly below, view a video featuring some of his highlights while with Montpellier.