Taranaki loose forward Kane Barrett and wing Waisake Naholo have landed Blues contracts for next year's Super Rugby competition.
The pair, along with North Harbour halfback Bryn Hall and Counties-Manukau first five-eighth Baden Kerr, have signed two-year deals with the Blues. Barrett returned for Taranaki in the 32-31 win over Northland in Whangarei, while Naholo limped off with a leg injury in the 43-32 away loss to Auckland last Wednesday.
Barrett, 22, said he was thrilled to be named in the Blues squad.
"I went up there a couple of weeks ago and liked what I saw," he said while doing some tractor work on his day off from training with the Taranaki side.
"They've got two international coaches up there [John Kirwan and Graham Henry]. It's an opportunity to develop my play with those guys and it's pretty exciting."
It has been a frustrating year for Barrett, with illness keeping him out of representative play.
However, he showed he was back with a powerful game against Northland.
"I was cramping up a little towards the end and still feel a bit sore today but it was great to get through the game.
"Signing with the Blues won't change anything, I'll still give it everything.
"I'm looking forward to getting stuck in against Manawatu on Saturday."
New Zealand sevens representative Naholo, who, like Barrett, came through the Taranaki Rugby Union's Olex Academy, was also excited at the prospect of playing Super Rugby.
"It's a big step up but I'm looking forward to it," he said.
"I went up there and met with the coaches then left it with my agent to sort things. It's a bit of security."
Naholo, 21, who has also signed with Taranaki for two more years, said his ankle injury was improving.
"I'm not sure about [playing on] Saturday, we'll see."
Kirwan said he was thrilled to name the four players in his squad.
"They fit the criteria for the types of players we are looking for in their respective positions, as well as how they will mesh with those already in the squad," he said.
Kirwan said it was a balancing act of mixing young and exciting with the older, more experienced heads.
Both Hall, 20, and Naholo have represented New Zealand in the under-20s. Kerr, 23, and Barrett have played at provincial level, with Barrett captaining the New Zealand secondary schools side in 2009.
No 8 Peter Saili has also re-signed with the Blues.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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