I guess he got an opportunity to go somewhere else
All Black loose forward Adam Thomson was the most high-profile omission when the New Zealand Super Rugby franchises revealed their squads for the 2013 season on Wednesday.
The 68-cap Highlanders star’s name was absent from Jamie Joseph’s 31-man squad with the Highlanders coach suggestion his non-selection was due to Thomson’s expected move overseas.
''He will be a huge loss for us because he is a player who won games for us by himself last season through the strength of his individual performance,'' Joseph said.
''He was close to coming back until, I guess, he got an opportunity to go somewhere else ... we are disappointed not to have his services because he has been a great guy for us.''
Thomson, who has won 27 Test caps for the All Blacks, has fallen out of favour under incumbent coach Steve Hansen and has been linked with a move to Japan.
Thomson is on the top retainer of $180,000 for Super Rugby players in New Zealand but could earn up to $1 million in Japan.
Thomson’s contract with the Highlanders, Otago and the New Zealand Rugby Union expires at the end of the year.
His place in the Highlanders squad is taken up by former Crusader Jake Paringatai, who is no stranger to Japan himself. Paringatai left New Zealand to play in Japan after a criminal conviction and according to Joseph, who has been in contact with him while coaching in Japan, he is a changed man.
''He is in better shape, both physically and mentally, than what he was back then. Sometimes it takes a few years to mature, and I think he has matured nicely. He gets a crack,'' Joseph said.
The Highlanders start the 2013 Super Rugby competition against the defending champion Chiefs on February 22 in Dunedin. Their pre-season includes games against the Chiefs on February 2 in Taupo, Crusaders in Oamaru on February 8 and Blues in Queenstown on February 15.