Former Blues first five Baden Kerr has returned home from Japan and will don Counties Manukau colours for the 2020 Mitre 10 Cup.

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Kerr, who has spent the last two seasons with the Honda Heat, represented the Steelers from 2010 to 2014 and then again in 2017. He accumulated 39 caps during that period and also spent two years with the Blues.

Between his time in New Zealand and the move to Japan, Kerr represented the Bedford Blues in the UK and was also signed to Saracens for a season but didn’t make any appearances for the prestigious English side.

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The 31-year-old is the only bona fide first five option signed to Counties Manukau with Chiefs utility Orbyn Leger also capable of stepping into the role if required.

“Just the timing of Baden being back in New Zealand – we caught up for a conversation and we said we would love to have him back in Counties Manukau,” said Steelers coach Tai Lavea. “We had no first-fives signed and so it was a bit of a no brainer really.

“It was good timing for us that someone of his talent and experience was available.”

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After two seasons in Japan, Kerr is happy to be back representing the province he grew up in.

“I’m pretty pumped to be back home at Counties,” Kerr said. “I have been away for a couple of years in Japan and sort of slipped in just before lockdown began.

“Once I got home, I began training a little bit and had some proper conversations with Tai, Boof [assistant coach Grant Henson] and Deano [assistant coach Dean Cummins] and got really excited by the group of coaches they have and the chats we had and it became a bit of a no brainer.

“I think the thing that always excites me about playing for Counties is that it is where I have grown up, where I was born and who I have always supported.

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“I think when you have that feeling and you are playing for more than just a couple of dollars it becomes a lot more motivating.”

Counties Manukau have also signed Blues hooker Ezekiel Lindenmuth from Auckland as well as former Auckland lock Lyndon Dunshea.

A number of stand-out club performers will also join the province for the upcoming 2020 season which kicks off in early September.

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