Veteran lock Jason Eaton, scrumhalf Chris Smylie and new recruit James Marshall have all signed with the Hurricanes for 2013, taking the total number of contracted players to 26 for next season.
“It is fantastic to have another three players from Taranaki commit to the Hurricanes. We have a large catchment area, with nine provincial unions within Hurricanes territory, and Taranaki have been a strong part of that for many years,” Hurricanes CEO James Te Puni said.
The 78-capped Eaton had a standout season for the Hurricanes, starting all but one match. “I really enjoyed this past year with the Hurricanes so I’m very happy to be re-signing with the franchise. I am looking forward to building on last year’s efforts with the ‘Canes.”
Hurricanes head coach Mark Hammett added, “The signing of these three Taranaki players is great news for the Hurricanes. Jason played a big role in the leadership of the team for 2012 so it is great to have that experience remain with the side.”
Smylie was cruelly ruled out last season, after suffering a shoulder injury in their final pre-season match, and forced to miss the entire 2012 campaign.
Now the fully fit scrumhalf is eager to get back the Capital. “I’m really excited to be playing under Hammer and Al. After my injury, I almost feel like I’m going into my debut Super Rugby season by signing with the ‘Canes for 2013.”
“Chris was unfortunate to pick up his shoulder injury at the start of last season. He was tireless in his rehab work and I know he will be itching to pull on that Hurricanes jersey again which is exciting for the team,” said Hammett.
A new face to Hurricanes fans will be Marshall, but the versatile flyhalf and fullback has a strong resume for a 23-year-old. He previously represented Tasman before he shifted north this year to Taranaki, spent a season with Aironi in Italy in 2010/11 and has played for the NZ Sevens team. A member of the Hurricanes wider training group in 2011, Marshall is looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity to test myself at the next level. It’s been a goal of mine for a while now and to achieve it with the Hurricanes is a dream result.”
Hurricanes assistant and backline coach Alama Ieremia said, “Next year will be good step up for James from our wider training group. He has had a strong ITM Cup campaign for Taranaki and has been rewarded for that.”