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Original stint: 1995-2004.
Went to: Various overseas teams.
How it went: Came into the Highlanders as injury cover in 2011 aged 36 and exceeded all expectations. Brought all of his intelligence and an impeccable kicking game, while retaining his fearless attitude. Played so well he came into the discussion for All Black replacements when injury struck at the World Cup. Ended his playing career later that year with Otago in the NPC.
Original stint: 1999-2003.
Went to: Canterbury.
How it went: Was limited in how much he turned out for Otago, often being away with the Black Caps. McCullum still had some memorable moments in blue and gold, though. On his return he scored 170, including a 52-ball century against Auckland to help Otago win the final of the 2008 domestic one-day competition. Also captained the Volts to the short-lived twenty20 Champions League in India.
Original stint: 2004-12.
Went to: Japan and Australia.
How it went: Thomson did not just return from a stint away. The former Highlander and All Black had been in hospital for two months with a spinal infection in 2017. During that time, he was unable to walk. While perhaps not the dominant figure he was of old, to see him back in blue and gold after all that was special.
Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit
Original stint: 2008-11 (Sting).
Went to: Central Pulse.
How it went: Since her stint with her home Pulse team, Selby-Rickit has been a mainstay in the Steel defensive circle. Intelligent and crafty, she has a knack of coming up with ball in big moments. Since her return, the Steel has won two titles and been to the playoffs three additional times.
Original stint: 1993-96.
Went to: Various teams overseas.
Returned: 2003; 2012-14.
How it went: Had a brief stint in 2003 during a career in which the star point guard played in some of the world’s top leagues. Returned home in 2012 and a year later was an integral part of the Nuggets’ breaking a 16-year playoff drought. Led the league in assists the next year, the final year of a top-level playing career spanning 21 years.
Original stint: 1998-2000 (Otago).
Went to: Taranaki/Hurricanes.
Returned: 2012-13 (Highlanders), 2016 (Otago).
How it went: Did not quite reach the heights of his prime years while away in his return home. To be fair, the 2013 Highlanders season was a disaster for all involved. Came out of retirement in 2016 to provide injury cover for Otago in the NPC championship final against North Harbour.
Original stint: Childhood.
Went to: Taieri/Otago/various professional teams.
How it went: Seeing a professional return to his small-town, boyhood club is almost unheard of these days. Parker wore the No10 jersey in Kurow’s Citizens Shield-winning campaign this year, while home from Japan, where he plays for the Kobelco Steelers. It was Kurow’s first title since 1982.
Original stint: 2003-11.
Went to: Miami Heat.
How it went: Made the NBA Finals all four years on his return to Cleveland and delivered a near-superhuman performance to secure a championship in 2016. Healed the significant wounds from his departure in 2011.
Original stint: 1999-2007.
Went to: Various clubs
How it went: Played four games and scored one goal, as he returned on loan to the club at which he became one of the English Premier League’s greatest players.
Original stint: 2011-18.
Went to: Cronulla Sharks.
How it went: All will revealed next year. But Johnson will need plenty of that old magic to get the Warriors back on track.
Original stint: 2012-14.
Went to: Southern Steel.
How it went: Has been influential in turning the Tactix defence into one of the most potent in the ANZ Premiership and has become an automatic selection for the Silver Ferns. While the team struggled in her original stint, this time around she has captained it to two grand finals.
Original stint: 2003-11.
Went to: Blues, Highlanders.
How it went: Never showed his best at Super Rugby level and his 2013 stint with the Highlanders was a memorable catastrophe. In 2015, Nonu returned to the Hurricanes, bringing good form and helping the team to the Super Rugby final.
Original stint: 2003-13.
Went to: Dragons, Broncos, Blues.
How it went: Perhaps not quite as electric as his younger self, but Marshall rediscovered top form during his second stint with the Tigers.