Tony Brown: Highlanders Recall Old Hero

Jeff CheshireAnalyst IIFebruary 28, 2011

Tony Brown looks to pass as the Highlanders take on the Blues in 2003.
Tony Brown looks to pass as the Highlanders take on the Blues in 2003.Ross Land/Getty Images

The Highlanders have recalled the services of Tony Brown for the next few weeks of the Super Rugby competition. Brown's return comes after injuries to Colin Slade and Lima Sopoaga have left the franchise light at the Flyhalf position for their trip to South Africa.

Brown was a member of the original Highlanders squad in 1996 and played for the team until 2004, playing a total of 83 games and scoring 817 points.

This point tally remains a franchise record.

Highlanders fans often fondly recall the days when the ball would be handed to Brown, who could always be trusted to slot a kick, and as a good runner, he was the catalyst for many-a try by the lethal Highlanders backline.

After leaving Otago, Brown played in Japan for four years. He returned to the Super 14 in 2006 with the Sharks, but was injured after eight games. He then reappeared with the Stormers in 2008, but played only eight games while scoring just six points. He currently ranks fifth on the all time points scored in Super Rugby list.

Now, at the age of 36, he returns to the place where it all began.

But it seems his return will be a temporary one. He will be used to cover for Robbie Robinson, who will be the team's starting Flyhalf in the absence of their first and second choice 10's. Once Slade and Sopoaga resume their places as the franchise's first and second choice Flyhalf's, the playing services of Brown will no longer be required.

It is certainly a gamble picking Brown when there are plenty of other players of the same position who could be used as cover for injured players. So why then did coach Jamie Joseph recall the Highlanders' old Mr. Reliable?

The most likely reason seems to be his experience. The Highlanders have a lot of young players, and it's shown. Brown will be able to help them grow both on and off the field. He is a very intelligent player, and can help the Highlanders in close situations.

The question remains whether he is still capable of playing at his former level. He has suffered various injuries, and has not played first-class rugby since 2008. No one knows how he will adapt to being thrown straight in the deep end of one of the hardest of road trips in the world's hardest competition.

Either way, few down south are complaining about the return of their former local hero. Should he play well we many see another 'Party at Tony Brown's House' when the Highlanders play the Crusaders at Carisbrook in three weeks' time.