Rugby-Waratahs lock in Wallaby Hanigan for 2022

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - England v Australia - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 24, 2018 Australia's Ned Hanigan looks dejected after the match REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia lock Ned Hanigan will return to the New South Wales Waratahs in 2022 after completing his contract in Japan in a boost for the struggling Super Rugby side.

The 26-year-old, playing for Kurita Water Gush in Japan, will slot back into a Waratahs pack with the returning Jed Holloway and Wallabies captain Michael Hooper as the Sydney team looks to rebound from a winless season in 2021.

"I'm very grateful that the Waratahs have welcomed me back," 15-test Hanigan said in a statement on Friday.

"I'm really enjoying my time abroad at Kurita Water Gush in Japan, but as a proud New South Welshman I can't wait to hopefully get the opportunity to represent my home state and the Wallabies again soon."

Hanigan will also reunite with new Waratahs coach Darren Coleman, having played under him in the lower-tier National Rugby Championship.

Though based in Australia's most well-resourced rugby state, the 2014 Super Rugby champion Waratahs have suffered an exodus of experienced players in recent years while also failing to bring in quality recruits.

The result was 13 consecutive losses in 2021 after finishing fourth in the five-team Super Rugby AU last year.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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