Highlanders first five-eighths Chris Noakes will play for the Blues in the next Super Rugby season.
Noakes has returned to his provincial union, Bay of Plenty for the 2012 ITM Cup season and will head to Auckland to join the Blues franchise later in the year.
The 27-year-old was born in Orakei, Auckland and was a former Kings College 1st XV player.
“I grew up in Auckland and that’s where all my family is so I’m looking forward to joining the Blues and settling down again in my home town – something I haven’t done for many years,” said Noakes.
Blues High Performance manager Nick Sheppard said Noakes is a welcome addition to the franchise. “Chris has had a really solid season for the Highlanders on the back of an excellent BOP provincial campaign last year, so we were pretty keen to see him return to Auckland at this stage of his rugby career.”
Also securing their rugby futures with the Blues are three young players, products of the Blues wider development programme whose Super Rugby careers took off earlier than expected in 2012. Charles Piutau, Francis Saili and Steven Luatua will line up again for the Blues in 2013/14.
“Luatua really stepped up for the Blues this season when a serious tally of injuries thrust the young forward into the big time and he handled the speed and pressure of Super Rugby extremely well. Following his national sevens commitments, we were lucky to have Charles Piutau at the tail end of the season and like his team-mate Francis Saili proved, these two have got serious speed and ability,” said Sheppard.