Kobe Steel’s new General Manager is Wayne Smith and the new head coach is Dave Dillon while Nick Holten, Steve Cumberland, Andries Bekker and Scott Hansen are also on the coaching staff. Former All Black star Dan Carter signed earlier in the year from Racing 92.
Buckman who is currently injured and not expected back on the field for another few weeks is excited by the move.
“I’m excited to start a new chapter in my footy career with the added bonus of the opportunity to come back and maybe play one more season for the Highlanders in 2019. I love playing for the Landers so I hope it’s not too much longer until I’m out there again this season,” he said.
Franklin a hard working middle rower has been with the Highlanders since 2014 and currently sits at 59 games.
“At this stage of my career the chance to play for Kobe was too good to turn down. I have had a fantastic time down south but it’s a good time to explore other opportunities, I am hoping to return in 2019 for one last go with the Highlanders,” said Franklin.
In recent years former Highlanders Joe Wheeler and Pat Osborne signed in Japan and returned to play another season for the Highlanders.
Highlanders CEO Roger Clark was delighted both Buckman and Franklin could be potentially returning in 2019.
“Bucky and Tom have been mainstays of our team over the last few seasons and always give 100%. We are close to signing agreements to secure their return for 2019; in the meantime we wish them well during their time with Kobe,” said Clark.