Coltman keen to play footy

Veteran hooker Liam Coltman was barely recognisable when he fronted for a Highlanders photo shoot at Cargill’s Castle.

He was looking resplendent in the Highlanders’ new kit, of course. But that was not the most striking aspect of his new look.

The 31-year-old had carefully trimmed his trademark beard.

He is more Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai than Tom Hanks in Cast Away right now.

But beard lovers need not panic — it is an annual fixture.

"I usually have a trim at the end of the season to tidy myself up a wee bit," he said.

Highlanders players (from left) Liam Coltman, Folau Fakatava and Marty Banks don the new...
Highlanders players (from left) Liam Coltman, Folau Fakatava and Marty Banks don the new Highlanders kit at Cargill’s Castle. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Next season will be Coltman’s 10th year with the Highlanders and he is still feeling fresh.

"I’m looking forward to it. There are a few more fresh faces in the team and a couple of old fellas coming back as well."

Coltman picked up a knee injury during a pre-season game for Otago and looked like he might miss the NPC.

But Covid-19 interrupted the season and Coltman returned in mid-October and was quickly up to speed.

Asked if he was ambitious to add to his eight appearances for the All Blacks, Coltman said: "I’m just keen to play some good footy, to be honest."

"Just get out there and have some fun.

"With the team we’ve got, I’m looking forward to it. We’ve got some guys who have been around the traps in the NPC and are coming into their own, so I’m really excited about what this team can do this year."

The Highlanders’ first hit-out is a pre-season game against the Crusaders in Weston on February 4.

They will also host Moana Pasifika in Queenstown on February 11, while their opening Super Rugby Pacific game is scheduled to be against the Crusaders in Christchurch on February 19.

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