Lock Jason Eaton agrees to Hurricanes deal

DAVID LONG
Last updated 11:00 23/09/2012
Jason Eaton
Fairfax NZ
JASON EATON: "I have verbally agreed to be back at the Hurricanes, but I haven't put pen to paper yet."

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Jason Eaton has been offered a contract by the Hurricanes and verbally agreed to come back for his eighth season with the franchise.

Although the 30-year-lock has reached agreement with Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett to come back, he says he hasn't signed a contract and did admit that there is a slight chance he could move overseas instead.

"I have verbally agreed to be back at the Hurricanes, but I haven't put pen to paper yet," Eaton told Sunday News.

"I have really enjoyed playing for Taranaki and the Hurricanes and I don't want to leave, but I will assess things over the summer.

"I am getting old and I'll try to make some money out of my career while I can."

Eaton has one year left on his deal with Taranaki but has an out clause in that contract.

"I have got options to leave if that's the way I decide, but if I am in New Zealand I want to play for the Hurricanes and Taranaki," he said.

"They're the two teams that have looked after me the most and I like to be loyal and give back to them as much as I can.

"I have really enjoyed the past year with both teams."

Eaton's situation is a far cry from what it was a year ago.

Hammett didn't offer him a contract at the end of the 2011 season and he was linked with a move to the Crusaders at one stage. But eventually Hammett came to the decision that he wanted to keep the 15-test All Black.

"It's a huge difference over the way things have transpired over the last 12 months," he said.

"There is a completely different environment in the Hurricanes from this year to last year and I like to think I was a part of that.

"I'd like to continue that and it is pleasing not having to ask around for a job and pleading with people.

"It's not very nice and this is a much better situation to be in."

But before Eaton gets to put on Hurricanes colours again, he is in the midst of a memorable season for Taranaki.

While there is a way to go in this year's campaign, they are still in with a good chance of ending the season as NPC champions and holders of the Ranfurly Shield.

"That's definitely our goal," Eaton said.

"We want to have the shield for another summer and to win the ITM Cup.

"We have been building for a number of years as a group and we've got a great core of players and some good depth.

"We talked at the start of the season about what we could achieve and we thought we could win every game.

"Obviously we've had a setback in that, but we'll try to win every game from here on in. We have been building for too long not to capitalise on this and it is realistic to keep the shield and win the ITM Cup."

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There are 15 players in the Taranaki squad with Super Rugby experience and they're coached by Colin Cooper, who was in charge of the Hurricanes for eight years before returning to Taranaki.

Because of all of this experience Eaton says standards are set high at the province.

"The same standards [as Super Rugby] are expected but it's not quite as full-on and as intense," he said.

"We're not all fulltime professionals - there are guys here who've got fulltime jobs, so we can't be as intense.

"Our group is a special one - we've probably got the biggest contingent of Super Rugby players going around and there is a lot of experience at this level.

"We're led bloody well by Craig Clarke, who sets a good example and Colin has been around a long time and that's transpired on to the field over the last few years.

"So there should be no excuses for not getting up and getting to the final and hopefully winning it."

- Sunday News

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