Banks loving being back with Highlanders

Marty Banks (right) looks to catch the ball at training at Logan Park yesterday. Lock Jack...
Marty Banks (right) looks to catch the ball at training at Logan Park yesterday. Lock Jack Whetton is behind him. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
As Marty Banks gets comfortable in his third stint with the Highlanders, he says he never tires of the South.

The perky first five-eighth is a bit of a wanderer but always finds himself drawn to the two teams for which he loves playing - the Highlanders and Tasman.

"The only places I have ever stayed for any time have been Tasman and Dunedin,'' he said.

"I remember when Browny [former Highlanders coach Tony Brown] rang me up in 2014 and asked me to come down, that was an awesome opportunity and one I grabbed with two hands. That year to sit in behind Lima [Sopoaga] and a few years afterwards.

"Now we have got Josh Ioane and Bryner [Bryn Gatland]. It is just cool to be back

"I just love Dunedin. I get along with everyone here. Most of the time anyway.

"I get a bit of flak thrown at me from time to time. It just suits me. My personality - I'm pretty outgoing, and love a joke and that, and a yarn.

"It's awesome to be back. Great to see the sun. When I left Japan it was pretty cold so good to come here.''

He said Japan was a bit different - "they don't understand me so can't give me any flak'' and it was a culture shock when arriving in Osaka.

"It is a bit different to get rice with every meal so I managed to find a few fish and chip shops which I enjoyed.''

Banks (29), who has also played in Russia and Italy, first joined the Highlanders in 2015, and dropped a goal in the final that year to help the southern franchise win the title.

He played the next year before he was set to head off overseas and was off the books of the Highlanders.

But those plans went on the backburner, and he was whistled back into the side in 2017 when Hayden Parker was injured in pre-season.

He played well that season before finally heading to Italy.

Japan was next after Banks joined the NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes in Osaka last year and the side had a successful season, winning promotion to the Top League.

The side is coached by former Otago captain Mike Brewer.

Banks has come off the bench in the past two matches for the Highlanders and one gets the feeling that is the role in which he will be used.

His experience is a real bonus for the side and his a kicking ability is a skill that cannot be ignored.

''Whoever gets a crack each week just has to get out and do the job ... it is pretty cool to get out there and play against the best players in the world.''

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