Former England halfback Heinz back in Christchurch club colours

Source: 1News

It wasn't that long ago he was helping knock the All Blacks out of the Rugby World Cup, but now Kiwi-born England international Willi Heinz is back in New Zealand and at the ripe old age of 35, going after even more history.

Heinz confirmed last month he was back for the 2022 NPC season, signing with his beloved Canterbury after departing the red and black hoops back in 2014.

But before that, there was something else he had missed in New Zealand.

“Playing club footy for Linwood is up there,” he told 1News.

“I joined here a couple of years out of school and played all my senior rugby pretty much here. They were my springboard intro professional rugby, effectively.”

Heinz is back with the Bulls in time for their elimination final on Saturday, where his experience and skills have been lauded by his teammates.

“When he speaks to us, the respect everyone sort of shows him, it's pretty cool to play with someone like him and some of the young ones didn't even know he played at the last World Cup that's how young they are,” Linwood captain Tepasu Thomas said.

“But once they saw the photo they started buzzing out.”

Willi Heinz looks to kick during the Rugby World Cup semi-final against the All Blacks in 2019.

Heinz has had plenty of tales to tell his younger teammates from his lengthy career, but he’s still hoping there’s one or two chapters left.

“Everyone tells me you're a long time retired so I came back and had a few games here and the opportunity came up to sign with Canterbury,” he said.

“I just thought, ‘look, it’s the team I've always loved’. Growing up here in Christchurch, Canterbury was the team I always wanted to play for and the opportunity is there again so I'm really excited for it.”

Who knows what could transpire from that, but for now he's looking to charge on with the Bulls who hung on for a 32 - 31 win over Shirley.

“2011 was the last time Linwood played in a final so it's been a long time, but there's a good few games to go before we get there,” Heinz said.

“We can't get too ahead of ourselves but what it would mean for the club, it'd just be incredible so it's certainly the goal.”

The comeback is on in more ways than one.