Rugby season finished last weekend at Twickenham.
It starts again today when the Highlanders assemble in
Training begins on Monday for the squad, though it will be
minus the All Blacks.
It was initially thought those who had been on the Maori All
Black tour would miss training before Christmas but most who
went on that three-match tour will front up today.
While it may seem early to be training, some players have not
played since the middle of October and the first pre-season
game is less than eight weeks away.
It will be something of a new era, as Highlanders coach Jamie
Joseph is joined by his new assistants, Scott McLeod and Jon
Preston. Graham Purvis is also on board as the new manager.
About 25 squad members and wider squad members should begin
training, which will run for two weeks, finishing on December
The players will then have a break and return to training
about January 8.
The All Blacks will slowly filter back in. Most of them are
not expected to clock in until early February.
New captain Andrew Hore will miss the three pre-season games
and the opening match of the competition because of his
Japanese-based players Jake Paringatai and Brad Thorn are
also not expected back until some time in February.
The team will go through some administration work over the
weekend before training begins on Monday.
The Highlanders' first pre-season game is against the Chiefs
in Taupo on February 2.
They play the Crusaders in Oamaru on February 8, and the
Blues in Queenstown on February 15.
The side opens its Super 15 campaign against the Chiefs at
Forsyth Barr Stadium on February 22.