Versatile Buckman happy to play anywhere

Highlanders outside back Richard Buckman. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Highlanders outside back Richard Buckman. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Richard Buckman is the ultimate man of versatility.

Started off his Highlanders career on the right wing, seemingly coming from nowhere.

Then a bit of time in the midfield. A year on the sidelines after scoring a try in a pre-season game.

A return to a bit of fullback, wing and midfield then basically last year written off because of a sore neck.

He started in what could be his last year with the franchise on the right wing last week and will now switch to the left wing when the Highlanders take on the Crusaders at Forsyth Barr Stadium tomorrow night.

It has been a handyman's ride for Buckman, and he delivers the standard line when asked about what he prefers.

''I'm not too worried, to be honest. Anywhere on the field is good for me.

''I've played many positions now and any jersey that fits and does the team justice, then I'm happy to play,'' he said.

''Last year I had a bit of a bulged disc on my neck and that pretty much ruined my season. Hopefully, I have freshened up after the Japan season and I'm feeling pretty good now.''

The man nicknamed the Barracuda, who turns 30 in May, said he needed a break from the game after a stint in Japan.

Buckman played for the Kobe Steelers in the Japanese Top League competition at the end of last year, along with team-mate Tom Franklin and the side, boosted by All Black great Dan Carter, won the title.

''Wayne Smith was our director of rugby ... we had a good bunch of Kiwi coaches and Kiwi lads there ... Wayne just taught you about the mental side of things and how you dig quite deep into the game.

''He teaches you about all those little things, stuff like video analysis and that.''

Buckman said the Japan experience was one he really enjoyed.

He had previously played for Panasonic in the competition.

He is set to return to Kobe next season although the dates of the Japanese season are yet to be confirmed.

That may mean an end to his playing days with the Highlanders but never say never.

His ability and rugby brain are appreciated.

When he is available he has usually been picked and has played only five games off the bench in his six years at the franchise.

He is nearing 50 games for the Highlanders, having come a long way from when he was picked as a training partner for the Highlanders in the 2014 season.

In that season, injuries to others led to him playing in every game and becoming a bit of a cult figure.

''I came down and signed a one-year deal and I was not planning to be down here for long.

''But I have thoroughly enjoyed my time down here and I love coming down here and playing Super Rugby and then heading back to the [Hawke's] Bay or Japan.''

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