Bay of Plenty hooker Kurt Eklund has been named as fulltime replacement for the Blues for the 2021 Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa season.
Eklund will replace hooker James Parsons who last week announced his retirement on medical advice.
Eklund’s outstanding performances for Bay of Plenty in 2019 led to his inclusion in the Blues team on a one-year contract in 2020. He played 13 games for the Blues in 2020 including seven as starting hooker and was roundly lauded for his energetic performances.
However, there was no place for Eklund initially in the 2021 Blues squad with Parsons and Ray Niuia each with one year remaining on their contracts, and outstanding teenage talent, Soane Vikena, the Blues Development Player of the Year, earning a multi-year contract.
The Blues indicated their interest in Eklund for the future, signing him for 2022 and 2023 season, which left him with options for this season. He had opportunities to play for other Super sides across the Tasman, but eventually decided to accept a position as a temporary replacement at the Blues pre-season with Parsons, Niuia and Vikena all injured.
When Blues centurion Parsons announced his retirement last week, coach Leon MacDonald approached Eklund for a fulltime contract.
“It has all worked out well for me. Obviously it’s sad for James to be forced to retire. I learned so much from him last year,” said Eklund.
“I have my chance now and I will take it with both hands. I owe it to James to be the best I can be – because he has left some big shoes to fill both on and off the field.”