Black to Blues, and West off to Canes

Kapi-Mana News - - CLASSIFIED - STAFF RE­PORTER

Otere Black and Ihaia West are swap­ping jer­seys for next year’s Su­per Rugby competition.

Hurricanes first five-eighth Black is head­ing to the Blues, his move north co­in­cid­ing with the de­par­ture of the Blues’ cur­rent No 10 op­tions, West and Piers Fran­cis.

Hawke’s Bay first-five-eighth West will re­place Black at the Hurricanes while Fran­cis, who made his de­but for Eng­land re­cently, is re­turn­ing home to play for Northamp­ton Saints.

Ris­ing young star Bryn Gat­land has also signed with the Blues.

A New Zealand Un­der-20 and New Zealand Maori rep­re­sen­ta­tive, West played 43 games for the Blues and amassed 341 points.

Black, 22, who played for the New Zealand Maori and New Zealand Un­der-20s, has been part of the Hurricanes for two years as backup to Beau­den Bar­rett.

Gat­land, also 22, was a key part of North Har­bour’s suc­cess in the Mitre 10 Cup and played four times for the Blues as a re­place­ment this sea­son. He also played for the NZ Pro­vin­cial Bar­bar­ians in the tour opener against the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions.

Black has signed un­til 2019 and Gat­land for one year.

Blues head coach Tana Umaga said the ac­qui­si­tion of two young play­ers to part­ner out­stand­ing prospect Stephen Pero­feta was ex­cit­ing for the club.

‘‘Otere is a young player of con­sid­er­able tal­ent. I had the plea­sure of coach­ing him with the New Zealand Un­der-20s at the World Cup where he played a big part in that win,’’ Umaga said.

‘‘He is an ac­com­plished first­five and will be a valu­able ad­di­tion to our young group of first-fives.

‘‘Bryn im­pressed us when he came into the Blues this year with his abil­ity and a level of ma­tu­rity be­yond his years. He showed with his per­for­mance against the Lions that he can rise to the big oc­ca­sion.’’

Black, who has played 31 times for Manawatu and has 17 caps for the Hurricanes, has de­cided to move to the Blues to fur­ther his ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties.

‘‘It was a hard de­ci­sion for me to de­cide to leave the Hurricanes,’’ Black said.

‘‘The team has been a big part of my life and has shaped me to be who I am to­day as a player. I owe the coach­ing group, the play­ers and the staff a great deal.

‘‘I am ex­cited about the chance to be part of such an ex­cit­ing play­ing group at the Blues and I am look­ing for­ward to working with Tana again.

‘‘There are no guar­an­tees but I hope to make the Blues 10 jumper my own and I am look­ing for­ward to all the chal­lenges that come with that.’’

Af­ter four sea­sons with the Blues, West will bring con­sid­er­able ex­pe­ri­ence to the Hurricanes where he will be coached by his for­mer New Zealand Un­der-20s coach Chris Boyd.

‘‘I have de­cided it’s time for a new chal­lenge and thanks to the Hurricanes man­age­ment I have the op­por­tu­nity to be in­volved with a strong and suc­cess­ful team,’’ West said. ‘‘I am look­ing for­ward to join­ing the Hurricanes en­vi­ron­ment and play­ing for a team that is close to me, be­ing from Hawke’s Bay.

‘‘I’ve en­joyed my time with the Blues and want to thank the boys and the coaches for the ex­pe­ri­ences and mak­ing my time there en­joy­able.’’

GETTY IMAGES

Ihaia West, left, is mov­ing closer to home as he moves from the Blues to the Hurricanes. Above, Otere Black is head­ing the other way.

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