Another Turbo jumps across to Taranaki rugby

BY GLENN MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 23/12/2009

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New Zealand sevens rep Kurt Baker was named as Taranaki rugby's latest signing yesterday.

Baker, 21, joins his Manawatu team-mate Andre Taylor, who also signed with the union on a two-year deal this week.

Baker had been with the New Zealand sevens side on the first two legs of the IRB circuit where he helped it win the first two tournaments.

"At this stage in my career I am really focused on building and securing my future in professional rugby," he said yesterday. "I am looking forward to making the most out of every opportunity I get in Taranaki."

Primarily a fullback for Manawatu in this year's Air New Zealand Cup, Baker might have to switch to the wing next season after Hurricanes outside back Taylor expressed a strong desire to play in the No 15 jersey after his signing.

The signing of Baker is a further signal the players used at fullback in Taranaki's Air New Zealand Cup campaign – Ace Malo and Jack Cameron – might not be in favour with new coach Colin Cooper, although he is eager to expand the number of players capable of doing the job.

"We want to create depth and competition in the squad," he said yesterday. "Signings of this quality will certainly boost the back three, which is an area we have focused on developing."

Cooper revealed he had been approached by several players about moving to Taranaki, but he would not name names. "That's exciting for Taranaki," he said.

Taranaki Rugby Football Union chief executive Mark Robinson also announced contract extensions for several players yesterday.

Hurricanes wider training group prop Michael Bent has signed on until the end of 2011, while former All Blacks loose forward Scott Waldrom has signed again for next season.

His Hurricanes team-mate, first five-eighth Willie Ripia, has also committed for next season.

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