Tom Donnelly joins the Blues

Getty Images     18 Oct 2013     Getty Images

The 32-year-old former Highlander and Crusader has signed with the franchise for one year and said he was looking forward to a fresh new challenge.

“I’m really keen to continue playing rugby in New Zealand and when this opportunity came up to join the Blues I jumped at the chance,” Donnelly said.

“I’ve really been enjoying my time with Otago this season and imparting some of my knowledge and experience onto a young group of players and I’m relishing the opportunity to do the same with a similarly young and exciting Blues team.”

With the departure of key locks Ali Williams and Anthony Boric at the end of last season, Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan said Donnelly would provide invaluable experience at the lineout in their absence.

“We’ve signed young Patrick Tuipulotu and have Liaki Moli and Culum Retallick as our other locks so we felt we needed a little more experience for this young side and Tom will certainly bring that,” Kirwan said.

“He’s had a year away in Japan and was part of the Crusaders last season but he’s pretty keen for a new challenge and we’re looking forward to having his expertise at the franchise.”

Donnelly made his Super Rugby debut for the Highlanders in 2004 and earned the first of his 15 All Blacks Test caps against Australia in 2009.

After eight years with the Highlanders, Donnelly joined the Crusaders in 2012 and headed overseas to join the Mitsubishi Club in Japan later that year, before returning for the Crusaders’ 2013 Investec Super Rugby campaign.

The 2014 Blues squad will be formally announced on October 30.