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All Blacks Duo Stick To Blues

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Fuseworks Media
All Blacks Duo Stick To Blues

Auckland, Oct 15 NZPA - The under-performing Blues Super 14 rugby franchise has managed to hang to North Harbour All Blacks Tony Woodcock and Anthony Boric.

Woodcock, the country's premier loosehead prop, and rookie lock/loose forward Boric confirmed today they were staying put at the Blues and North Harbour by signing a two-year deal.

The pair were rumoured to be on the verge of moving to a rival Super rugby franchise, possibly the Chiefs, but have remained loyal after some financial restructuring, to the relief of the Blues and North Harbour.

An agreement was reached after some wage stresses were removed from North Harbour, who pay a chunk of the duo's salary despite them rarely turning out for the province.

The Blues have absorbed some of the wage bill -- a move that enabled the franchise to ward off any potential rivals.

North Harbour chief executive Brett Hollister was happy.

"I appreciate the support of the Blues in retaining Tony and Anthony. These guys are core North Harbour players and people," he said.

Blues coach Pat Lam said he was also delighted 58-cap front rower Woodcock and the versatile Boric, who has played 10 tests, had re-signed.

"It's awesome these senior boys have again committed to the Blues and North Harbour, despite considerable pressure from other franchises," Lam said.

The head coach also felt their presence would counter suggestions players were keen to leave the franchise.

"There's been a lot of talk about us being dysfunctional and our culture and things like that, but if people who have been in there have re-signed maybe that's not quite the truth."

Lam added All Blacks Keven Mealamu, Jerome Kaino, Isaia Toeava and Joe Rokocoko to the mix of senior players who that will turn out in 2010.

"They want to be here," he said.

Meanwhile, the Blues' acquisition of Stephen Brett remains unconfirmed though it seems only a matter of time before the Canterbury and Crusaders five-eighth heads north before returning home for the domestic competition.

Lam has dead-batted any inquiries about Brett's arrival, saying he did not want to talk "before things are put on paper".

Brett is expected to join Wellington halfback Alby Mathewson as a potential combination for the Blues; Mathewson has already confirmed he is leaving the Hurricanes to contest the No 9 jersey with Auckland's Taniela Moa.

The player transfer deadline is tomorrow but the five franchises only reveal their squads on November 11.

Brett has been targeted since Daniel Carter could not be lured north earlier this year, while England's World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson was approached without success.

Manawatu rookie Aaron Cruden and Bay of Plenty's Mike Delany also resisted a shift.

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