Cowan to leave New Zealand rugby

by staff

All Blacks halfback Jimmy Cowan will leave New Zealand to join English club Gloucester later this year.

Cowan had been rumoured to be in discussions with Gloucester for some time and his signature was confirmed on Tuesday.

"Jimmy has been an outstanding All Black and given his all every time he has worn the black jersey," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said.

"He is a passionate player and fantastic team man who wears his heart on his sleeve. When he does go, he goes with the best wishes of the team."

Cowan, 28, this year became the second person to play 100 Super Rugby games for the Highlanders, following Anton Oliver, although he has spent much of this season on the bench following the emergence of Aaron Smith.

He has played 51 Tests for the All Blacks since his debut in 2004.

Meanwhile, the Highlanders confirmed five-eighth Mike Delany and loose forward Hale T-Pole are back from Japanese stints to join the squad.

Delany, a 2008 Highlander, comes from Japan to join the team following injuries to Colin Slade and Lima Sopoaga.

T-Pole, a Highlander between 2004 and 2007, will cover for John Hardie, who is out for the season with a foot injury.