By Dave Campbell
JASON EATON is adamant that there are no lingering issues with Mark Hammett after the second-term Hurricanes coach’s initial reluctance to offer him a 2012 contract.
Eaton, who has started all four games in the ’Canes second-row this season, was expecting to be getting ready for a club campaign with Stratford at this time of the season after Hammett told his agent that he would be cutting him from the roster after six years of loyal service to the franchise.
However, the 16-test All Blacks lock forced Hammett to perform a hasty U-turn with a storming ITM Cup campaign for Taranaki that culminated in him being named as the province’s player of the year.
“I suppose through time and getting over what happened last year [with Andrew Hore and Ma’a Nonu being axed], we sort of worked out the differences between the Hurricanes and I,” Eaton told Rugby News, playfully adding that it was nice to “be wanted again”.
Despite rumours of an offer from the Crusaders, Eaton had “nothing on the table” at the start of last year’s ITM Cup, with all five New Zealand teams seemingly unable to find a place for the Taranaki veteran on their rosters.
The 29-year-old admits to being a bit shocked by the experience, but he wasn’t overly surprised.
“It’s more like a business in the professional era. Players have to be able to move around and adapt,” he says.
“We’re catching up to other professional sport. You see it in the English Premier League, where there are soccer players being traded mid-season. That’s just the norm for them now. I think rugby is heading in that direction now, and the public is starting to understand the process.”
Meanwhile, Eaton says playing their first three games away from home was a positive experience for the Hurricanes.
Although they were unable to snatch victory over the unbeaten Highlanders in Wellington last Saturday night, touring through South Africa and Australia over the first three weeks allowed the new-look ’Canes to create a positive environment and put all the right systems in place.
“Being away for that time was ideal for us, because it meant we were able to keep building on what we’d done in the pre-season. I think all of the work that we’ve done has shown out on the track.”« Back to Articles
This weekend throws up another set of games which could go either way.
Which player was unlucky not to make the Wallabies’ preliminary squad for the British and Irish Lions series?