Kirwan quick to take Baden Kerr from Steelers

DAVID LONG
Last updated 06:00 23/09/2012
Baden Kerr
JASON OXENHAM/Fairfax NZ
FRESH TALENT: New Blues coach John Kirwan has opted for Counties Manukau first-five Baden Kerr, while de-listing Gareth Anscombe and Michael Hobbs.

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The Blues have signed Counties Manukau's first-five Baden Kerr with Gareth Anscombe and Michael Hobbs both delisted, while Jamie Mackintosh has opened the door to a move north depending on what happens with the Highlanders' captaincy.

Kerr has been in outstanding form for the Steelers, he has been an integral part of their superb season and warrants his shot at Super Rugby.

As the only other first-five confirmed for the Blues next season is Bay of Plenty's Chris Noakes, Kerr has a good chance of being the franchise's main playmaker.

Although Anscombe could end up at the Chiefs or Hurricanes, or even back at the Blues, Hobbs may find it hard to get into a New Zealand franchise.

In other Blues developments, All Blacks flanker Adam Thomson won't be coming to the franchise next year and it now seems likely he will stay at the Highlanders or head overseas.

But Mackintosh may be tempted. After Southland's 27-17 win over North Harbour yesterday, Macintosh said he needed to talk to Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph about what his views were for captaincy of the team are next year.

As Tony Woodcock is likely to be their starting loosehead prop, it may be unlikely that Joseph would want to keep Mackintosh as skipper.

Sir John Kirwan is keen to pick up Mackintosh as a replacement for Woodcock.

Although Macintosh is contracted to the Highlanders, Ma'a Nonu is signed for the Blues for 2012 and there's been plenty of talk about him heading south.

"With Woody coming down there are positives and negatives for me," Mackintosh said.

"In the last two years, out of the 34 games I've played in 33 of them and that takes its toll on my body, I generally start the season strongly and am pretty buggered by the end of it.

"With Woody coming down and shared game time that could help me, but with that I don't know how the captaincy is going to go, that's something I have been really proud of.

The 27-year-old said he can see some positives about a move to the Blues.

"The thing about the Blues is that they're in an exciting place because I've been there before with the Highlanders," he said. Meanwhile, Counties Manukau second-five Bundee Aki will sign to play for the Chiefs next season.

The Chiefs have delisted Jackson Willison and Maritino Nemani.

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- Sunday Star Times

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