Former All Blacks lock Jason Eaton has dispelled rumours he is heading for the Crusaders after confirming he has had no offers from any New Zealand Super rugby franchise.
Eaton, who led Taranaki to a 26-23 win over Tasman in New Plymouth last night, said Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett had told him at the start of the ITM Cup that he would not be required at the Wellington-based franchise.
"At the moment I'll be playing for Stratford," he said. "I'm looking at different avenues because I want to keep playing in New Zealand and play for a franchise. At the moment I'll take any one of them."
Eaton's form in the ITM Cup has gone from strength to strength as he continues to lead the lineout stats around the country.
The 2m-tall second-rower believes he still has a lot to offer New Zealand rugby and admits he is frustrated by what has happened at the Hurricanes after Hammett showed long-term team-mates Andrew Hore and Ma'a Nonu the door, while Piri Weepu has headed to the Blues.
"I've still got huge goals within New Zealand rugby and I still think I can achieve them," he said. "Things aren't working out as I'd planned."
While Hammett told him he was unwanted, Eaton said the first-term coach had tried to reach him in the past week.
"He's told my agent `no' but he has been ringing in the last week. I've rung him back once but I haven't managed to talk to him yet."
Eaton was told it would take 18 months after his last knee reconstruction to get back to full fitness and that was how it was proving.
Reflecting on last night's win, Eaton said it was "as tough as we had imagined" to play three games in six days.
"It's not easy but it shows the depth we have," he said. "We didn't play much footy as a team for a lot of the game but our defence was good and we took our chances when they came."
- Taranaki Daily News
Is this the best summer ever?Related story: Wellington sizzles in January heat