BLUES TURN TO BLACK
THERE HAS BEEN A MAJOR SWAP AROUND WITH FIRST-FIVES IN NEW ZEALAND THAT WILL SEE OTERE BLACK HEAD TO THE BLUES AND IHAIA WEST GO THE OTHER WAY TO THE HURRICANES.
Black has long been a target for the Blues, who have seen him as a potential long term answer to their ongoing troubles with decision making and game management.
The former New Zealand Under 20 player rejected the chance to move North in 2015 and instead chose to stay in Wellington despite the fact he was barely winning any game time behind Beauden Barrett.
The Blues didn’t give up, though, and they came back for him this year and were able to persuade the 22-year-old to take up their o er.
The Blues were forced into the market when incumbent, Piers Francis, decided to head back to England and join Northampton.
And not only did they pick up Black, but they have also signed Bryn Gatland after he impressed in a few injury-cover outings for the Blues earlier in the year and then played so well for the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians against the British & Irish Lions.
“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 first-five 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.”
West, who has been with the Blues since 2015, is originally from Hawke’s Bay and was delighted to make the switch with Black.