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Chris Noakes to join bumbling Blues

Published: 5:57PM Thursday July 26, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

Highlanders' first five-eighths Chris Noakes will play for the Blues in the next Super Rugby season.

Noakes will return to his provincial union, Bay of Plenty for the 2012 ITM Cup season and will head to Auckland to join John Kirwan's Blues franchise later in the year.

The troubled Blues, under the dumped Pat Lam, swapped rookie Gareth Anscombe, Michael Hobbs and Piri Weepu in the number 10 shirt this season.

They all largely failed to fire as the Blues slumped to their worse season in franchise history.

Noakes, 27, was born in Orakei, Auckland and was a former Kings College 1st XV player, but is unlikely to be the man to finally fill Carlos Spencer's boots.

"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.

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 significant tally of injuries thrust the young forward into the big time and he handled the speed and pressure of Super Rugby extremely well, Blues High Performance manager Nick Sheppard said.

"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 some serious speed and ability."