WELLINGTON, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Former All Blacks winger Hosea Gear is returning to New Zealand rugby next year with the Waikato Chiefs in an effort to break into Steve Hansen’s 2015 World Cup squad.
The 30-year-old Gear was a late inclusion in the All Blacks’ 2011 World Cup squad after initially being considered one of the unlucky players to miss out and in his prime was a near certain selection on the left wing for the world champions.
Gear will join the twice Super Rugby champion Chiefs at the conclusion of his one-season contract with Japanese club Honda.
His combination with midfield back Sonny Bill Williams will provide the Chiefs with more size and power in their backline next season, particularly if centre Robbie Fruean also recovers from his latest heart surgery.
”Hosea ticks all the boxes,“ Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said in a statement. ”He’s a good man, very professional and experienced.
“He’s also a hell of a player, powerful, quick and a quality finisher. We are really looking forward to working with Hosea next season.”
Gear left New Zealand at the end of the 2013 Super Rugby season for a contract with French club Toulouse but decided not to exercise an option for an additional year, instead moving to Japan with Honda.
The dovetailing of the end of the Japanese season with the beginning of Super Rugby will allow him to return to New Zealand and push his claims for the 2015 World Cup.
The dynamic winger, who has 14 caps for the All Blacks and has also played for the Maori All Blacks and the All Blacks sevens team, faces a logjam of other players in the back three.
His former Wellington Hurricanes team mate Julian Savea has cemented himself as the first choice left wing, while fullbacks Israel Dagg, Ben Smith and Charles Piutau can play on the wing.
Cory Jane also started on the wing in all three matches of the recent series against England. (Editing by Ken Ferris)