Lentjes staying put with Highlanders

Highlanders flanker James Lentjes at training yesterday at Forsyth Barr Stadium. In behind is...
Highlanders flanker James Lentjes at training yesterday at Forsyth Barr Stadium. In behind is lock Jackson Hemopo. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
After all the defections, the Highlanders have scored a win in the recruitment department.

Flanker James Lentjes confirmed yesterday he has signed with the Highlanders until the end of the 2021 season.

Lentjes (28), who started in the 2015 Super Rugby final for the Highlanders in his first season with the side, said he was happy to stay at the Highlanders and enjoyed Dunedin.

‘‘I love Dunedin and I love this team so it was an easy decision,’’ he said.

‘‘There was nothing that turned my head. My partner and I both really enjoy Dunedin. We have family just up the road. Both our families are in Christchurch and they come down quite a bit.

‘‘Dunedin is a nice place and the lifestyle is awesome. The grass is not always greener.’’

He said with a dozen or more players leaving he might take more of a leadership role, something with which he was not concerned.

‘‘We are losing some key guys, some All Blacks. But it will be refreshing having some new faces round. Sometimes you can bring in some new guys and bring in some new energy.’’

Lentjes also confirmed he had signed for two years with Otago.

The openside flanker has played in 13 games this year for the Highlanders, the highest number of appearances in a season in his five years with the side. He was forced off with a blow to his thigh in the game against the Waratahs last Friday night but it appears fine.

He has played 36 games for Otago.

Lentjes said the team was just focused on itself for the quarterfinal match against the Crusaders this weekend, and what it could do better from the last game.

The players were excited to be in the playoffs.

‘‘We’ve got a chance and are very excited to have a chance at playoffs footy. What has happened in the past in the season doesn’t really matter. When you get to the playoffs the winner goes through and it is as simple as that.

‘‘They are obviously playing some good footy but we are just focusing on what we can do.’’

The side had plans for the game and was working hard on them but were keeping them in-house.

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