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Nomadic Lee Eyes Overseas Move

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Auckland, Oct 10 NZPA - Hawke's Bay's provincial rugby quarterfinal against Waikato in Napier on Sunday has taken on added significance now their captain Danny Lee has revealed plans to move offshore.

Halfback Lee, a two-test All Black six years ago, announced today the Air NZ Cup quarterfinal would be his last match at McLean Park.

The well-travelled 32-year-old ends his second stint with the province at the end of this campaign after playing a prominent role in rebuilding the team once it was promoted to the revamped 14-team competition.

"When we were promoted to the Air New Zealand Cup at the end of 2005 it was crucial that we brought more professionalism and experience at playing at the highest level to the squad environment for the challenge that lay ahead," said Hawke's Bay Rugby Union chief executive Mike Bishop.

"Danny has provided all of that. His thoroughly professional approach both on and off the field has been a major factor in the Magpies' successful transition to this level."

Lee made his debut for Hawke's Bay as a high school student in 1994 before shifting to Counties-Manukau and then Otago. His nomadic existence continued with the advent of Super rugby with Lee representing the Hurricanes, Chiefs, Highlanders and most recently the Blues in this year's competition.

Hawke's Bay coach Peter Russell was philosophical about losing a key member of his leadership group.

"He hasn't retained a Super 14 contract so Danny's looking to further his career off shore. He's given great service to New Zealand rugby and feels it's time to move on."

Lee said he was pleased to have had a second opportunity to play for Hawke's Bay during what amounts to the province's rebirth.

" I've been able to come full circle and return here to play a part in the provinces re-emergence -- that's fulfilled a long held ambition for me," he said. "I wanted to return to my home province because I felt I had a something to offer and to be able to captain a team that has reignited the public's interest in rugby in the region has been a huge thrill."

Lee was selected for the All Blacks under John Mitchell for the 2002 end of year tour to Great Britain and France. He debuted against England at Twickenham, scoring a try on debut and also earned a cap against France.

Lee is likely to be replaced behind the scrum by Chris Eaton, his understudy over the last two seasons. Former North Otago halfback Kilifi Fangupo, currently with the B team, is also in the mix for 2009.

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