Ruru signs for Auckland; Hunt eyeing Harbour

Jono Ruru
Jono Ruru
Otago halfback Jono Ruru has played his last game for Otago, and has signed with the Auckland  union.

The energetic halfback may be followed out the door by promising flanker Dillon Hunt, who is thought to be heading to North Harbour.

Ruru, who is in Canada with the New Zealand Maori side, has signed a two-year deal with the Auckland union.

This follows his signing by the Blues franchise last month.

His agent, Henry Bates, said once the Blues came knocking with a pretty good opportunity, Auckland then also presented a proposal shortly afterwards.

He said the offer from Auckland was too hard to turn down and Ruru had decided to head north.

As a draft player, it was wiser for Ruru to sign with Auckland as it would make it easier for the Blues to sign him and other franchises could not get their hands on him next year.

Ruru (24) had no ties to Dunedin and had family and his partner in Auckland.

Otago Rugby Football Union general manager Richard Kinley said although no union wanted to lose players it was understandable  Ruru wanted to move on for another opportunity.

Ruru had come south in the middle of the club season last year from Hawkes Bay when injuries had opened up a vacancy in the No9 jersey for Otago.

He had played just one game for Hawkes Bay and was the fourth-choice player in the position for the Magpies.

But he had impressed for Otago and his combative style and good running game had found a home at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Otago has signed halfback Josh Renton for next year.

Hunt is believed to be heading back to North Harbour and his departure will be a big blow to the union.

Hunt (22) has had a rapid rise this year and was picked to play against the All Blacks for the Barbarians at Twickenham. He had an outstanding rookie year for the Highlanders this season, called in as injury cover as other flankers went down.

Strangely, Hunt has been selected in a back reserve’s jersey for tomorrow’s game and is bound to get some game time.

Kinley said the union was still talking to Hunt and working through the process.Hunt’s partner is believed to be working in Auckland and Hunt has just about completed his surveying degree.

He has played just 13 games for Otago since making his debut last year and went to school on the North Shore at Westlake Boys’ High School.

Meanwhile, loosehead prop Craig Millar is exploring options in Japan although there is a chance he could come back and play for Otago.

The loosehead prop missed out on a Highlanders contract this week and there is a possibility  he could end up playing for the Sunwolves.

Bates said that might be tied in with also getting a deal with a Japanese club.

Millar (27)  played just two games for the Highlanders this year but impressed for Otago this season.

With the Highlanders aggressively pursuing tighthead props Tyrel Lomax and Kalolo Tuiloma, the squeeze went on the loosehead props.

Loosehead prop Aki Seiuli has signed for the Otago union for the next two years.


How many good halfbacks do we have to lose before Otago and Highlanders selectors realise Josh Renton just isn't all that good. Brad Weber went North a few years back, and now Ruru.

I appreciate there's a desire to foster local talent, but you'd need to have some in the first place if that logic were to apply to Renton.

Not for the first time I say "Damn!"