The Blues have announced the signing of Highlanders flyhalf Chris Noakes, who will return to Auckland ahead of the 2013 Super Rugby season.
Noakes will return to his provincial union, Bay of Plenty, for the 2012 ITM Cup season and will then move to Auckland to join the Blues at the end of the year.
The 27-year-old was born in Auckland and was a former Kings College 1st XV player so is pleased with his decision to move.
"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 in 2012.
Charles Piutau, Francis Saili and Steven Luatua will all line up again for the Auckland franchise after signing two-year contract extensions.
"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. "
"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," said Sheppard.