Counties' Baden Kerr ponders shift overseas
Star Counties Manukau Steelers first-five Baden Kerr has got his love of rugby back, but he could be lost to the province if he can't get a Super Rugby contract.
The Karaka playmaker, who spent the last two seasons with the Blues, has yet to be signed for the 2015 season and said he would consider signing overseas if he was not selected in a Super Rugby team.
A series of thumb and finger injuries, which ruled him out for the entire 2014 Blues campaign, were costly for him as Simon Hickey and Ihaia West jumped ahead of him in the Blues' pecking order.
With the addition of former Crusaders and Highlanders inside back Dan Bowden, Kerr could struggle to make the team.
But the 25-year-old said Blues coach Sir John Kirwan left open the possibility of bringing him back.
''[Kirwan] said the door is open if I play well enough and he gave me some things to work on, purely from the year before because I did not get to play much [this season],'' he said.
The other New Zealand Super Rugby franchises have established starters, but he could be a high-level back-up to one of the teams if injury hit.
Kerr said if he did not get a Super Rugby contract, he would have no choice but to look at options overseas.
''Being a professional rugby player is the key thing for me so if you don't get a Super Rugby [contract] then you are not really a professional rugby player and making a living out of playing rugby so that becomes a factor.''
He admitted not having a contract meant it was more important he played well this season.
''It does [make my performances this season more important] but I do not really want to look at it that way, I just want to get back into ITM Cup rugby,'' he said.
''I think if you look too far ahead you are not going to play the best that you could so if I concentrate on it game-by-game, I will train better and I will play better. If I train better and play better, then my future will take care of itself.''
He said he was ''in my happy place'' when he returned to ITM Cup rugby off the bench against Taranaki two weeks ago.
''I have got the love of the game back,'' he said.
''When you are not playing for so long, you realise how much you love it.''
But his injury curse struck again as he was set to start his first Steelers match of the year last weekend against Otago.
The discovery of another broken finger forced him to withdraw from the starting side and could sideline him for up to four weeks.
When he returned to the field, the pressure was on Kerr to perform this year and that can only benefit the Steelers.
Counties Manukau fans and coaching staff would have their fingers crossed that he got a Super Rugby contract and was back next year.