26 Apr 2013

Saints sign Wellington teenager, Canes didn't make an offer

6:18 pm on 26 April 2013

It seems the Hurricanes Super Rugby side were too slow to snare a Wellington teenager, who's been snapped up by the losing AFL club from last night's historic first-ever competitive Premiership game played outside Australia.

Joe Baker-Thomas only took up the sport a month ago, but St Kilda are betting the 16-year-old can become an Aussie Rules star.

Saints head of football Chris Pelchen says Saints recruiters needed to watch the 1.93 metre, 87-kilogramme player for just 15 minutes to spot something special.

Baker-Thomas says had a similar opportunity in rugby been offered first he probably would have taken that.

His older brother Tepasu is a development player with the Hurricanes.

Baker-Thomas will remain in Wellington this year to complete high school, but will make occasional trips to Melbourne to work with Saints staff while the club's development coaches will also make visits to New Zealand to work with him.

If things go to plan, he'll move to Melbourne for the second year of his initial two-year deal.

The club is expanding its recruiting team here to have four scouts in the country.